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WITH MY NEIGHBORS 



BY 

MARGARET E. SANGSTER 

AUTHOR OF " ON THE ROAD HOME " 

"LITTLE KNIGHTS AND ladies" 

ETC., ETC. 




NEW YORK 
ITARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 

1896 












DISCIPLIANA LIBRARY 

ATLANTIC CHRISTIAN C JLLE£. 



Copyright, 1896, by Harper & Brothers. 

All rights reserved. 



affectionately Inscribed 

TO MY FRIEND 
FRANCES J. DYER 



These bits of talk on homely themes address themselves to a 
fireside audience, and aim only to be helpful to those who face 
"the common days, the level stretches white with du.st.' 1 '' Orig- 
inally published in "The Congregationalist" and " The Christian 
Intelligencer," it is at the suggestion of many readers that they 
are here gathered and arranged in a little book. The poems 
are included by request. 



CONTENTS 



PAOE 

I. "TUCKERED OUT" 1 

II. PLANNING FOR PLEASURE 5 

III. THE POWER OF THE UNIT 10 

IV. A CHARM OF YOUTH 14 

V. MOTHER -BROODING 18 

VI. THE COMFORT OF STAYING AT ROME .... 21 

VII. STEPMOTHERS 25 

VIII. ONE VIEW OF THE MAID 30 

IX. THE NEED OF EXPRESSION 34 

X. TnE MOTHER WHO IS CROWDED OUT .... 38 

XL SOCIETY GIRLS 41 

XII. A CHILD'S SAVINGS-BANK 45 

XIII. TnE KEEPING OF DIARIES AND ACCOUNTS . . 49 

XIV. A BLESSING IN DISGUISE 52 

XV. CONCERNING INTERRUPTIONS 56 

XVI. SUNDAY READING CO 

XVII. A QUESTION OF HARMONY 66 

XVIII. SUMMER CHURCH-GOING 71 

XIX. AVEDDING-BELLS 75 

XX. A QUESTION OF PERSONAL LIBERTY .... 79 

XXI. THE GREAT GOOD 83 



Till CONTENTS 

PAGE 

XXII. OUR GIRL AS A WOMAN OF BUSINESS . . 86 

XXIII. THE USE OF THE WORD " LADY " .... 91 

XXIV. HOW SHOULD AN OLD LADY DRESS ? ... 95 
XXV. A PLAIN TALK WITH COUNTRY GIRLS . . 99 

XXVI. WOMEN IN PUBLIC LIFE 104 

XXVII. OUR DEAR ONES GONE 108 

XXVIII. AN ATTRACTIVE MANNER Ill 

XXIX. OTnER-WORLDLINESS 114 

XXX. FULLY RIPE 117 

XXXI. THE REFLEX INFLUENCE OF FOREIGN MIS- 
SIONS 121 

XXXII. THE ACCEPTANCE OF DISAPPOINTMENT . . 124 

XXXIII. A FALSE STANDARD OF SUCCESS . . . ' . 128 

XXXIV. SUNDAY CONVERSATION 133 

XXXV. HOME AFTER COLLEGE LIFE 137 

XXXVI. THE NEW WOMAN 140 

XXXVII. THE MORAL EFFECT OF PRETTY GOWNS . 144 

XXXVIII. A FATHER'S WORK 148 

XXXIX. MY BROTHER'S KEEPER 153 

XL. CONVALESCENCE 158 

XLI. A GOLDEN MILE-STONE 1G4 

XLII. THE RISING GENERATION 169 

XLIII. LOVE IN DOMESTIC LIFE 173 

XLIV. A FIELD FOR CLEVER WOMEN 175 

XLV. THE BURDEN OF THE GRASSHOPPER . . . 177 

XLVI. THE CARE OF THE CARE-TAKER .... 182 

XLVII. COMMUNION 186 

XLVIII. POLITENESS 190 

XLIX. THE UNREST OF OUR GIRLS 194 



CONTENTS IX 

PAGlt 

L. THE TOILET OF THE SOUL 198 

LI. RIGHT LIVING ON A WRONG PLANE .... 202 

LIT THE HOUSEHOLD PROBLEM 206 

LIII. GOOD HOUSEKEEPING 211 

LIV. LOVE IS THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW. . .215 

LV. THE LORD'S LEADINGS 219 

LVI. EXTRAVAGANCE IN LIVING 222 

LVII. THE TRIALS OF THE OVER-SENSITIVE . . . 226 

LVIII. RANDOM PRAYERS 230 

LIX. THE WEAKNESS OF GIVING UP THE BATTLE . 234 

LX. AN AFTER-THE-HOLIDAYS TALK 239 

LXI. OVERDOING IN KINDNESS. . . .... 242 

LXII. FRANKNESS BETWEEN FBIENDS 24G 

LXIII. THE HOUSE OF OBED EDOM 250 

LXIV. A BLESSED OPPORTUNITY 253 

LXV. INTERRUPTED 255 



WITH MY NEIGHBORS 



I 

TUCKERED OUT 



Tuckered out ! Pardon the homely phrase. 
Perhaps you know how to define it if you are a 
woman, up early in the morning and late at night 
and busy all the hours between. 

It is not so much that the back gives out, that 
the limbs ache, that the hands are unsteady — all 
this might be borne ; but when one is "tuckered 
out" nerves and temper feel the strain, and she 
who is usually cheery and pleasant gives an irri- 
table or sarcastic reply, speaks shortly to her hus- 
band, and is cross with her children. Poor thing ! 
Her very tongue is tired, and it hurts her to talk ; 
her thoughts are weary, and it is distressing to 
think. She is " tuckered out." 

The sensible thing to do would appear, at any 
cost, to be the taking of some rest, securing it, if 



2 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

only by snatches. Because, as a rule, the woman 
ignores this necessity and fights against her own 
weakness, holding it to be a credit to her to " keej) 
up till she drops ;" sooner or later she does drop — 
not always into that safe harbor, the grave. Mul- 
titudes of hard-working women are saved to their 
families and to old age by the merciful interven- 
tion of long and exhausting fits of illness, from 
which they slowly convalesce, and during which 
Nature rallies her forces and prepares the inva- 
lids to attack life again, grimly and obstinately as 
ever. 

One such woman I recall, living herself all her 
days at tremendously high pressure and forcing 
her family to endure hardness under her unremit- 
ting cleaning, cooking, scrubbing, and saving. 
Never a task too great for her energy ; never a 
summer so bot and so long that the caring for a 
number of city boarders was not added to the or- 
dinary work. And when most obviously " tuck- 
ered out " her people learned to expect a develop- 
ment in which " mother " was not singular. Too 
weary to essay another step, she would begin 
cleaning closets ! I have known many women in 
whom physical and mental fatigue expressed it- 
self not in the acceptance of rest, but in the un- 
dertaking of more work. 

Said an old farmer to me one afternoon, as we 
drove over a picturesque road in the hill country 



"TUCKERED OUT 3 

of New Jersey: "My wife never was idle one 
minute in forty years. If she couldn't find any- 
thing else to do, she pieced quilts !" We passed 
her grave in the churchyard, the narrow mound 
a-bloom with geraniums and roses, for it was sum- 
mer, and a tall, white shaft proudly expressed the 
sorrow of her family. " Poor Mary," said the 
old man, " she was always tuckered out. It's 
wonderful she can be quiet even in the burying- 
ground." 

To the great army of "tuckered out," middle- 
aged women, who may not delegate their tasks and 
do not see how to drop them, I would offer a more 
excellent way of relief than that afforded by the 
long spell of rheumatism in the winter or of pneu- 
monia in the spring. 

In the first place, be a little less notable. Over- 
look the dust now and then, or at least put some 
of the dust-collecting things away. There are in 
most houses many pretty knickknacks which add 
something to the housekeeper's cares, since they 
must be often administered upon by whisk and 
duster, or else look dull and clingy. Lock these 
up relentlessly, and bring them out only once in a 
while upon occasions of ceremony. Let the hus- 
band and children of tener add their help, both in 
the every-day routine, and in emergencies. To do 
them justice, they like to bear a hand, but the 
woman who srets " tuckered out " is so clever and 



4 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

capable that she has no patience with their clum- 
sy efforts. Her swiftness is in despair over their 
deliberation, and she waves them aside, and goes 
on herself, which is neither wise nor fair. 

As a matter of duty, the weary woman should 
secure a little rest every day, if only for a half- 
hour. Lie down, dear lady, a little while in the 
daytime, or sit down in your easiest chair, put 
your feet up on another chair and lounge. Do 
not even think, if you can help yourself, and 
shut your eyes. After a while, perhaps in a 
month or more, you will discover that you are not 
" tuckered out " quite so soon or so often. And 
perhaps somebody will say to you one of these 
days, as a girl in a shop did the other day to one 
of my friends, " Really, madam, for an old person 
you're quite beautiful." 



II 

PLANNING FOR PLEASURE 

We plan for the education of our children, for 
the necessary expenses of our households, for our 
journey next summer, for our new furniture, for 
the fields we hope to purchase, for the addition 
we mean to put on the house. We plan for so- 
cial advancement, for intellectual culture. Often 
in the midst of our plans the thought comes : 
" What if the present be full of toil and anxiety? 
The future will repay us for it all. We are plan- 
ning for an easeful old age, for days in the land 
of Beulah." 

I sometimes question whether we plan as we 
ought for our household pleasure. The whole 
subject of amusements, as related to daily ex- 
perience, is an interesting and important one, 
not to be arbitrarily discussed or decided on. Be- 
sides, it must be left in most cases to the indi- 
vidual conscience, except with reference to those 
forms of amusement which by common consent 
are condemned as unbecoming in decent families. 



6 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

More latitude with regard to all which comes 
under the head of entertainment obtains now 
than in a previous generation, and parents and 
children more generally take their pleasures to- 
gether than of old, in which there is a great gain, 
a visible step in advance. 

Whatever our private views about particular 
amusements, most of us agree that recreation 
is essential in healthy life, and that we work 
better if we have occasional play and pas- 
time. 

When the children are wee things, trotting 
about the nursery, filling the house with the 
music of their merry voices, and occupying the 
parents' hearts and hands with their daily devel- 
opment, pleasure at home takes care of itself. 
Father and mother are in danger, just now, as at 
no other time in life, of losing an interest in the 
world beyond their fireside. So sweet and so ex- 
acting do they find the world within their own 
walls that they are apt to think and to say that 
they require no other. " My parents," said a 
young girl to me not long ago, "fell quite out of 
the habit of going out when we were all little 
together, and they have never taken it up again." 
" I live only for my children," exclaims the young 
mother, wholly giving up the thought that soci- 
ety or charity has any claim to be considered, and 
therein making a mistake. A true woman's life 



PLANNING FOR PLEASURE 7 

should be symmetrical and many-sided, and hus- 
band and children are the gainers when the 
mother's interests, even in the days when her 
nursery most dominates her time, extend to a 
wider sphere, beginning in the home, and thence 
going outward in blessing. 

But after the children have passed the baby 
softness and sweetness, as they are growing up, 
and as the time comes when our boys and girls 
are numbered among the young people of their 
set and township, there should be planning for 
pleasure. It will be the easier and more graceful 
if, from the first, there has been a margin for it 
in the home life. Whether this is so or not, if 
the parents are wise they will begin now to in- 
clude among legitimate expenses some outlay for 
concert tickets, panoramas, illustrated lectures, 
and museums. In our larger cities there are mu- 
seums, picture-galleries, and libraries which, un- 
der certain conditions, are open to the public, 
and parents should count upon visiting these 
places with their children, restricting, if neces- 
sary, the expenses somewhere else, so that this 
form of outing may be possible. The grand 
symphony concerts and oratorios, which so de- 
light music-loving people, are great opportunities 
for family enjoyment, and if it be a question of 
new bonnets and gowns, new curtains or carpets, 
or of pleasure in this refined form, let the first go 



8 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

by all means, and make the larger and more en- 
during choice. 

There should be planning for pleasure in the 
home evenings. The winter evenings, when the 
cold and storm outside emphasize the warmth and 
cheer within, are dear to the home-loving circle. 
Then, with the daughter who plays seated at the 
piano, there may be song after song, with the 
family joining in the chorus. Or the charming 
book or magazine, the story which all may enjoy, 
may be brought out, and the older boys or the 
father will read aloud, while the girls have their 
fancy work, mamma takes her mending, and 
grandmother's needles flash in and out as she 
knits the pretty socks for the reigning baby. The 
home which has no grandmother is not half so 
dignified and beautiful as that one over which 
her benignant presence broods. 

1 like the plan of a little feast before the happy 
home evening ends. Maybe there are only the 
nuts which grew on the dear home farm, the ap- 
ples sun-tinted in the dear home orchard. Per- 
haps the cookies and ginger-snaps are plain and 
wholesome fare, and warranted not to cause a 
dyspeptic twinge. For this they are the better. 
Back of the mere eating and drinking, in the 
social home circle, lies the fact that the taking of 
informal refreshments always means good-fellow- 
ship. If neighbors drop in, all the more are you 



PLANNING FOR PLEASURE 9 

to be congratulated. That is a pleasant state of 
society in which neighborliness is cultivated. It 
is well in our planning to have one evening in a 
week, or at least in a fortnight, when everybody 
knows that we are at home, choosing the evening 
in such a way that it will not interfere with 
church engagements. 

Much which is recommended for winter even- 
ings may be modified to suit the summer, although 
the genial weather then invites more naturally to 
out-door pleasures, picnics, and excursions. 

This is the day of the carefully guarded physi- 
cal life. We have raised the health standard, 
and hand in hand with this should march a 
spiritual elevation. Our planning for pleasure 
will be futile if we do not so guard our hearts 
and tempers that we shall be unselfish, free from 
irritation, and ready to pass over annoyances. 
Trying days will come ; trying hours may vex 
our holidays. There are those in whom peace, 
the peace of God, is ever regnant, and they have 
a perpetual feast. 



Ill 

THE POWER OF THE UNIT 

Nothing is commoner than the underrating 
of personal influence. "I would willingly do 
this or refrain from doing that/' says a thought- 
ful woman, "but of what use would it be? 
Though I refuse to buy ready-made clothing at 
prices which mean starvation to the wage-earners 
who made it, a thousand other women will buy 
it, and my sacrifice will not count except as it 
inconveniences me. Whenever there can be con- 
certed action, an organized movement for the re- 
lief of those who drudge and are ill paid, count 
on my support ; but till then I may as well move 
on with the current." 

Such reasoning is based on a fallacy. Back of 
all concerted measures, back of all organization, 
is always the personal equation. Each of us, do- 
ing simply as her conscience dictates, quietly and 
for herself deciding questions of policy, really 
helps to form a better state of public opinion, 
really does something definite towards the im- 



THE POWER OF THE UNIT 11 

provement she longs for, and builds, though she 
may not dream it. a stone or two into the foun- 
dations of a stronger and more Christian social 
edifice. Each of us, however obscure, touches 
life at many points, and at some point or other 
may touch a nerve that will thrill not one friend 
only but a community. And if one mother can 
do nothing more, she can so bring up her own 
children that they shall scorn an act of injustice, 
no matter to whom it may be clone. 

Any specious form of thrift which may possi- 
bly mean the half loaf in some tenement-house 
or the menace to a young girl's virtue in some 
city street, is not to be done away with by wait- 
ing vaguely for action in concert. When Ameri- 
can women decline, and not till then, to avail 
themselves of gowns and corset-covers and skirts 
that are stitched by weary fingers for a sum which 
will not keep body and soul together, our seam- 
stresses will be properly paid. But every woman 
must remind herself of the power of the unit, 
and resolve that she and her daughters will do the 
thing that is right and just. We need a revival 
of the old spirit that made a man declare, "As 
for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.''' 
Never mind the stand taken by others. Some 
questions are to be settled between the Lord and 
ourselves. When holiness shall be Avritten on our 
least purchase in the thread -and -needle store, 



12 "WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and consecration shall extend to our relations 
with the girls in our kitchen and the girls who 
wait on us over the counter, the value of the 
personal equation will be recognized. That sort 
of religion put into practice is urgently wanted. 

Take the long hours in the shops, for example. 
If each householder who could do so, without 
making any verbal pledge except to her own con- 
science, without joining any society or attend- 
ing a single meeting, would quietly determine 
to attend to her own errands before five o'clock 
or before four o'clock, it would soon cease to be 
profitable to merchants to keep their shops open 
after six. If each lady who is a buyer would 
uniformly treat the girl who is a seller with 
courtesy and kindness, fewer complaints of rude- 
ness and inattention on the part of the shop-girls 
would be heard. The power of the unit cannot 
be overestimated here. The reflex action of 
courtesy is simply automatic. 

Equally in affairs which have to do with what 
we may call the minor morals the personal equa- 
tion tells. Because life is barren of interest and 
the sphere of observation is narrow, or the wom- 
en in a place have been ground down by work 
and know little of books, gossip has grown there 
like an evil weed. Harmless at first, it has grad- 
ually become tainted with envy, malice, and lack 
of charity, till slander and scandal have followed 



THE POWER OF THE UNIT 13 

in the wake of what was originally a kindly 
though trivial interest in the affairs of a neigh- 
borhood. 

Lo and behold ! there comes to such a com- 
munity a woman with a soul too large for things 
so petty — a woman brave and keen-sighted, and 
tolerant and loving. She utters no word of cen- 
sure ; she does not even look reproachfully at the 
gossip-mongers. She simply and sincerely goes 
on her way, ''sowing seeds of kindness/' believ- 
ing the best of everybody and scrupulously at- 
tributing the best to everybody, lending here a 
good book, there a paper ; frowning only on the 
persistently malevolent, but frowning not until 
the magic of her sunsbine has failed, and for 
love's sake trying to make all whom she meets 
happy and contented. By the power of her in- 
dividual example, the sweetness of her personal 
life, she so transforms that particular spot that 
its waste places rejoice and its desert blossoms 
like the rose. 

Try this magic wherever you are. Wait not 
for some one else to begin. Begin yourself. Do 
not expect a great change to be wrought at 
once. Nature's mightiest revolutions work si- 
lently. Begin yourself. The personal equation 
will count. 



IV 
A CHARM OF YOUTH 

If young people but divined it, nothing ren- 
ders them so charming as a beautiful deference 
to their elders. The girl who, as naturally as a 
flower to the sun, turns to her father and moth- 
er, anticipating their wishes and yielding her own 
desires in ready consent to their will, is simply 
irresistible. The stronger the nature the finer 
and sweeter it becomes if this grace of deference 
give it its final and crowning charm. 

Foreigners understand this as our American 
girls do not, or shall we say as American moth- 
ers often fail to do. The pretty English girl 
looks up to mamma for direction and accepts 
mamma's guidance in perfect docility until her 
wedding-day. The German, the Swiss, the 
French, the Italian girl of good family is so- 
licitous to please her mother, and wears the 
grace of filial courtesy as if it were a decoration. 
The manners of our young countrywomen are 
less often than formerly at fault in this regard. 



A CHARM OF YOUTH 15 

"How unamiable, crude, and unformed is the 
younger Miss Ransom," said a dignified Dutch 
matron to the writer in criticism of a young 
lady, born with the traditional silver spoon and 
educated in one of our best schools. "Her tone 
of patronage, and her supercilious air in ad- 
dressing her mother, mark her as insufferably 
ill-bred." 

Girls little know, when they snub their moth- 
ers or assert their independence of these older, 
wiser heads, how disagreeable an impression 
their conduct makes. The pert, flippant young 
woman in her teens or her twenties who fancies 
that she is sufficient in herself and scorns the 
advice of her mother is a jarring social note, 
and makes the circle around her very uncom- 
fortable. Happily she is growing rarer than of 
old, and, even as Daisy Miller, is likely to be an 
obsolete specimen soon. 

Character is often indicated by apparent tri- 
fles. The girl who brings a shawl to wrap 
around mother's shoulders, who slips a cushion 
in the precise angle to relieve a tired back, or 
remembers a hassock for her mother's feet, will 
one day make a loving wife to the man whose 
heart shall safely trust in her. She will do him 
good, and not evil, all the days of her life. For 
true wearing qualities, warranted to last through 
all stress of weather, we recommend the girl who 



16 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

is the tender, thoughtful, and deferential daugh- 
ter at home. 

I once knew a dear girl, in years little more 
than a child, whose study it was to make up all 
the deficiencies in her mother's lot. Her father 
was brusque and tempestuous, but Polly always 
bore the brunt of his tempers, and managed to 
coax him into a sunny mood before her mother 
had time to be wounded by his petulance. A 
baby came, and the mother was much worn by 
the interruptions the little one made in her 
slumbers. Many a uight the little crib was car- 
ried into Polly's room, and the daughter cared 
for the baby that her mother might rest. This 
mother Avas not very wise in some respects ; she 
had married young, and remained in some ways 
rather immature till her hair was gray. Polly 
was of a sturdier fibre, and had New England 
granite in her composition, but all her courage, 
vigor, and resolution were tributary to her moth- 
er's aid and comfort. 

As for young men, it is needless to say that 
nothing imparts to them such an air of distinc- 
tion as devotion in word and look to their par- 
ents. Youth is ardent, impetuous, impulsive, 
and apt to chafe at restraint. The very quali- 
ties which enable young men to conquer the 
world, which make them heedless of obstacles 
and cause them to smile at impediments alarm- 



A CHARM OF YOUTH 17 

ing to older and more cautions friends, interfere 
to prevent their willingness to be controlled. 
Yet never was there a good soldier or a good 
citizen who did not learn by strict discipline to 
rule himself and to defer to others. This lesson 
was to be first acquired before he was in a posi- 
tion to command. 

Even when parents and teachers are arbitrary 
and unreasonable, it is the duty of young people 
to bear with them respectfully. In the long 
conflict with trouble, in the disappointments they 
have met, and the anxieties which they have en- 
dured, parents may have become embittered or 
have grown pessimistic and discouraged. Youth 
is the true season of optimism. We shall never 
be sorry, we who are young, that we have been 
loving and patient with the parents who were in 
truth a little exacting at times. When they are 
gone and the generation that now stands between 
us and eternity is no longer a breakwater against 
that flowing sea, we shall be glad of every kind 
word we ever said, of every bit of self-control 
we ever showed, while still the happy circle was 
intact. 



V 
MOTHER-BROODING 

" Just now I am most concerned about Louise, 
because she is so unhappy," said a mother, refer- 
ring to a daughter who was passing through a 
phase of experience not uncommon in girlish life. 
" Of course I love Edith and Marjorie just as dear- 
ly, but Louise is not able to adjust herself to her 
circumstances, and I know that she is fretted and 
tried by some peculiarities of our home life as the 
other girls are not. It is easy to say that Louise 
ought to be contented. Very likely this is true, 
but the dear child is the more to be pitied that 
she cannot arrive at that tranquil state which oth- 
ers see to be her duty. So," the wise mother went 
on, " I am now doing my very best for Louise. I 
want her to be happy. Happy girls do the best 
work." 

Far more frequently than girls imagine their 
mothers are looking out for them in this way. 
When a girl comes home from college and is tempt- 
ed to feel that her years of conscientious study 



MOTHER-BROODING 19 

and work have been thrown away, particularly if 
there is no immediate or direct opening in which 
her training can be made available, she sometimes 
fancies that nobody understands the position, that 
nobody sympathizes. 

It is not true. Her mother used to be a girl, 
and whether or not she went to college in her day, 
she went to something that stood for what is col- 
lege now, and when she came home she felt as her 
daughter feels. There is very little in the young- 
er woman's life that the older woman does not 
comprehend, and though she may not always man- 
ifest her deep sympathy in the very best way, the 
sympathy is there. 

The mother-brooding does the girl good, much 
more good than scolding or sermonizing would 
do. By - and - by the young nature will emerge 
from the period of struggle and unrest. It will 
find its appropriate vocation and discover its mis- 
sion. Life will teach it patience. It will learn 
that conditions are changeful and circumstances 
temporary, but that in every place there is the 
chance for honest work, for true friendship, for 
the really divine fellowshi]i of service. 

Dear mothers, looking backward, do you not re- 
call how wistful, how eager, how impatient of re- 
straint you were in the days of youth ? Those were 
not reposeful days. They were energetic, rapid, 
tumultuous, and often unhappy days. You have 



20 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

left them behind you, and gone into a higher class. 
Reach down a helping hand to those who are 
not yet promoted to the Order of Serenity. 
Brood, dove-like, dear mother, over your unsatis- 
fied girl. She needs your patient tenderness and 
will repay it. 



VI 

THE COMFORT OF STAYING AT HOME 

c ' There isn't very much glory in 'biding with 
the stuff,' but there is solid comfort," and Aunt 
Ursula, having thus declared herself, took up her 
knitting and leaned back in her chair. Aunt 
Ursula is a discreet woman whose words have 
weight. 

When we go to the steamer to see our friends 
off there are flowers and farewells and the happy 
eclat of a journey just begun, and it is as though 
somewhere banners were waving and drums beat- 
ing " Forward, march !" We stand on the pier 
and watch the receding steamer till, a lessening 
speck, it is lost to view, and then, drying our eyes, 
we go home, put the kettle on, and make a cup of 
tea. Here enters comfort number one. It is very 
doubtful whether our beloved travellers, whatever 
pleasures they may enjoy, will taste tea with the 
excellent home flavor before they reach home once 
more. When one can control the whole process 
of tea-making, from the cold water, freshly drawn 



22 WITH MY NEIGHBOES 

and freshly boiled, not allowed to stand and sim- 
mer and evaporate and grow flat, but boiled brisk- 
ly and brewed steamingly over tea carefully se- 
lected and delicately measured, one is sure of a 
beverage before which headaches take wings and 
fly away, and which is nectar and ambrosia com- 
bined. Travellers' tea is often a composition with 
mixed flavors, in which hay and kerosene predom- 
inate. 

The person who stays at home may not, indeed, 
make acquaintance with novel scenes and situa- 
tions, but in the added quiet and comparative 
freedom from care, which the lessened family cir- 
cle implies, she may discover some new charms in 
the familiar landscape which she sees from her 
own door. Perhaps it is mother who has remained 
behind, speeding the younger people off to the 
outlook on the great world. Blessed mother- 
bird, whose brooding has made the home nest so 
dear and so sweet ! Mother was almost endless- 
ly busy in getting the girls ready for the trip. 
Anybody else would have been driven, but moth- 
er is always tranquil, let others hurry and worry 
as they may. Still, when the last stitch was- 
taken and the last nail driven and the last good- 
by spoken, mother was tired, and there is great 
comfort in resting when rest has been earned. 

Up-stairs, in Harry's room, there is a book which 
promises great entertainment, now that there is 



THE COMFORT OF STAYING AT HOME 23 

leisure to read it, and it is the more interesting 
at present that it gives a well-written descrip- 
tion of the lands which the children are visiting. 
In staying at home there is great satisfaction if 
one may also take a jaunt at will in a book not 
too large to be held in the hand. 

One's regard for comfort need not approach the 
Sybarite's ideal to make one appreciative of the 
homely ease of one's own room and one's own bed. 
Seldom does the habitual stayer-at-home realize 
her immense advantage here over the other, who 
reposes now in the coffin-like couches of a steam- 
ship's cabin and again in the confined quarters of 
a palace-car's sleeping compartment. The stabil- 
ity of the home bed, the springiness, the cool, ca- 
ressing touch of the spotless sheets, well folded 
in at the bottom of the mattress, the warmth of 
the soft blankets, the cleanliness so perfect and 
so pure, the friendliness of the pillows where you 
have rested in sickness and in health — all these 
compose a whole of comfort not to be despised. 

After nights of watching by the sick, have you 
never gone for the night to your own room 
with a sense of tranquil thankfulness, hard to de- 
fine but delightful to feel ? The stay-at-home 
will certainly sleep in luxury surpassing that of 
the most favored pilgrim, be the pilgrimage where 
it may. 

The sensible stayer-at-home, health and time 



24 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

permitting, will find a pleasure in undertaking 
some bit of work for which she had not leisure 
while life went on in its ordinary round. It is 
a good idea to lay out some separate thing, 
something out of the ordinary, and accomplish it 
now. So swift is time's flight that ere ever one is 
aware the months will have passed and the charm- 
ing duty will arrive of welcoming the dear ones 
back. The day of return is a red-letter day in- 
deed. 



VII 

STEPMOTHERS 

The woman who assumes the office of step- 
mother has three sets of persons to please — her 
own relatives, her husband's relatives, and the 
relatives of her husband's former wife. Each of 
these sets of kinspeople, to a certain degree, sits 
in judgment upon this brave lady who, in the 
majority of instances, conies to her new and diffi- 
cult position anxious to fulfil its obligations to 
the uttermost, and to be a good mother to the 
motherless children who appeal to the tender- 
ness of her woman's nature. 

ller husband's relations, with a somewhat illog- 
ical perversity, contrast her methods with those 

of the former Mrs. , are quite sure that poor 

John's substance is being wasted, and that the 
innovations of the present regime are enough to 
keep Carrie from resting in her grave, though very 
likely when Carrie was alive they found plenty 
to criticise in her. Her own relations are dis- 
tressed at the burden she has undertaken, fear 



26 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

that the care of the children will wear her out, 
and look at and speak of them as though they 
were little interlopers dwelling on sufferance in 
the house where they were born. 

As for the children's own relations, they can 
hardly help feeling jealous and uncomfortable 
when they come to the house, every nook and 
corner, every carpet and curtain, every pot and 
pan in which reminds them of the dear one, once 
mistress here, now gone. These were her little 
ones, her Harry and Bessie and Will, and the 
own grandmother and aunt, in whom the sense 
of bereavement is still so fresh and recent that 
they wonder how John can have had time to 
court and marry another wife, watch carefully 
and suspiciously every movement of the step- 
mother. Carrie's discipline may have been un- 
certain or stormy, but it is remembered only as 
gentle and self-sacrificing ; a hasty word, an im- 
patient look on the part of Carrie's successor is 
interpreted as severe if not malicious. 

With the best intentions the stepmother is 
forever treading on thin ice. Well for her if in- 
trusive and officious neighbors or servants have 
not doubled and trebled her embarrassments and 
perplexities by setting the children against her, 
pitying their hard fate, and assuring them of 
compassion and sympathy. Thus prepared, the 
little things pose to their own consciousness as 



STEPMOTHERS 27 

victims and martyrs, a mental attitude not with- 
out fascination to an imaginative child. Older 
boys square their shoulders and set their teeth, 
and are ready to fight if this stranger in their 
mother's place shall impose upon them; while 
their sisters, at the delicate and impressionable 
age of twelve or thirteen, are sullen and contrary, 
refusing to be conciliated by any overtures the 
new mother may make. 

Beyond the circle of those immediately con- 
cerned the whole world, as represented in song 
and story in the literature of every nation, sets its 
battle in array against the stepmother. Each 
woman, therefore, who takes upon herself the 
duties of this condition must conquer her world 
anew. That the common feeling and common 
talk on the subject are manifestly unjust alters 
no feature of the case. I repeat, she is a brave 
woman who marries a man to whose children she 
must become a mother with everything that 
motherhood implies^ for in the majority of in- 
stances this is precisely what she does. Loving 
the children for the sake of their father she 
adopts them into her very heart. 

(Sometimes she is aware of a double sacredness 
in this vicarious motherhood of hers, feeling that 
in very deed she has undertaken work laid down 
by one who is in heaven, and who there has not 
forgotten the children she left on earth. The 



28 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

thought of this mother invests the children with 
a dignity in the eyes of the stepmother. Her 
own children, when she shall have them, will 
bring with them an entirely different sort of re- 
sponsibility. 

"I felt so left out," said a devoted stepmother 
to me, " when at little Amy's funeral the minis- 
ter prayed for her father, her brothers and sisters, 
and for everybody but me." 

Evidently the good man had not imagined the 
stepmother in need of sympathy, yet she it was 
who had nursed the lost darling through the 
days and nights of fever, to whom the little one 
had turned in the intervals of delirium, and who 
had been a true mother to the last hour of the 
little life. 

Said again a stepmother : " I shall never know 
a moment of purer ecstasy than that which I felt 
when our great sixteen-year-old boy, of his own 
accord, first called me mother. He came in from 
school, stood on the stairs and called me. I 
could hardly speak for joy." 

I do not hesitate to say that I have often seen 
illustrated in the conduct of the stepmother an 
unsurpassed heroism of patience, fortitude, and 
courage little short of sublime. There are moth- 
ers and mothers. A woman may bear children 
and bring them up after a fashion, and yet be 
singularly lacking in the elements which compose 



STEPMOTHERS 29 

true maternity. It is possible that a stepmother 
may understand child - training, and may love 
children more fully than the mother who called 
them her own. 



VIII 
ONE VIEW OF THE MAID 

The "hired girl" or "help" or "domestic" 
or "maid/' call her by what name we prefer, is 
a very important factor in the life of the home 
which employs her services. Sometimes we over- 
look, in the contemplation of her shortcomings, 
the monotony and drudgery of her existence, 
which, brighten it as we may strive to, or inten- 
sify it as we may, on the other hand, by our lack 
of consideration, is, it must be admitted, narrow 
and hard enough. No class of working women 
grow old so rapidly as the women who live in 
our kitchens, eating good food, sleeping com- 
fortably, and partaking of our abundance. 

It is pathetic to see the roses fade in the 
cheeks of a young Irish peasant, the hollows 
deepen under her eyes, the hard lines creep about 
her mouth, after a few years of life over a cook- 
ing-stove, of polishing, scrubbing, washing, and 
ironing. Bridget has her numerous defects. She 
is a great trial to one's patience, a means of dis- 



OXE VIEW OF THE MAID 31 

cipline to her mistress in many ways, but she is 
warm-hearted, loving, and faithful, and she re- 
pays when she receives it the sort of care for 
her health, her associations, and her happiness 
that we freely bestow on our daughters. 

In a large boarding-house in New York, one 
summer Sunday morning, a message was hur- 
riedly sent from the kitchen to the mistress. 
It was an urgent and alarming message. The 
mistress descended in haste from her chamber 
to find her cook gasping for breath, a maid fan- 
ning her, another standing with a glass of water. 

"Oh, Miss Agnes !" exclaimed the woman, "I 
think I'm dying ! Who'll get the breakfast ?" 

The words were hardly spoken when she was 
"away," as the Scotch so graphically call the go- 
ing forth of the soul. Up-stairs the unconscious 
boarders, eighty of them, were awaking from 
their Sunday morning naps or leisurely dress- 
ing, and down-stairs, among her pots and pans, 
in the kitchen where she had borne the sceptre 
for eleven faithful years, the cook had put on 
the majesty of immortality. 

" Who'll get the breakfast ?" Her last earthly 
thought of duty, of responsibility, was as brave 
and rang as true as ever the dying word of sol- 
dier on a hard-fought battle-field. 

"1 had lived in the house for ten years, and 
had seen Ellen but once in that time," was the 



32 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

comment of a lady as she repeated these pathetic 
last words; "but," she added, "I never knew 
housekeeping to move with so little friction. 
Whoever went or came, the cook stood at her 
post, like the unseen pivot which regulates the 
machinery." 

A matron must not write herself down a fail- 
ure because, at certain domestic crises or in an 
occasional period of change and upheaval, she 
has trouble in adjusting satisfactorily the re- 
lation of the maid-servant to the family. One 
of the best housekeepers, and one, also, of the 
sweetest women I have ever known, had four- 
teen cooks in succession one winter. Going 
abroad for her summer's outing, her sister said : 

" Q is on the verge of nervous prostration, all 

through the unaccountable difficulty she had in 
finding or keeping a cook. It was perfectly sur- 
prising and has used her up, but we all know 
that it was phenomenal and not likely to happen 
again !" 

In engaging a maid the mistress is sometimes 
antagonized by the questions, apparently imper- 
tinent, of the former — apparently so, often, when 
there is in reality no impertinent intention. 

"Do you live in a pretty house? Are the 
rooms nice ?" innocently inquired a young girl 
of the lady who was about engaging her as maid- 
of-all-work. 



ONE VIEW OF THE MAID 33 

"I dismissed all thought of her on the spot," 
said the lady. "Her question was pert, and in- 
dicated a tendency to over-familiarity." 

Another woman, less easily daunted, engaged 
this girl, and found, after months of great com- 
fort, that she had a real treasure of diligence, 
docility, and faithfulness. And, when one thinks 
about it, why shouldn't the maid, the party of 
the second part, in a strictly commercial trans- 
action, desire to know whether or not she is to 
live " in a pretty house, with nice rooms ?" Why 
not? 



IX 

THE NEED OF EXPRESSION" 

There is a patient little woman away in a cor- 
ner of our "Western land who waited twenty- 
five years for her wedding - ring. Twenty-five 
toiling years, filled to the brim with hardship, 
with denial, with privation, but sweet beyond ex- 
pression nevertheless, with wifely devotion, with 
the love of a loyal husband, and the presence in 
the home of happy, healthful children. At last 
the patient woman found herself facing her sil- 
ver wedding-day, older, thinner, sallower than 
when she slipped her trusting hand into that 
of her lover, pledging him her lifelong faith, 
but contented and thankful, and assured that 
along the way she had come the Lord had led 
her. 

"Think," she wrote to me, "of a woman's 
waiting so long for her wedding-ring ! But when 
we were married we were too poor to spare the 
money for one. It was, indeed, all for love, and 
the world well lost ! You may imagine my de- 



THE NEED OF EXPRESSION 35 

light when my dear husband surprised me with 
my ring !" 

Other and beautiful gifts there were to crown 
this blissful anniversary — gifts from the son who 
had gone away to make his fortune, carrying with 
him the principles taught at his mother's knee in 
the plain, God-fearing household; love gifts from 
friends who had known and honored the pair, 
but perhaps the best and dearest of all is one 
which has been developing itself silently and 
slowly, amid the pressure of poverty and the 
limitations of a hard - working life, in a remote 
neighborhood where life has of necessity been 
strenuous. This gift has been hers all along, 
but she has had no time to discover it. 

The need of expression, amid many trials, has 
wrought in this woman until it has resulted in 
the ability to write acceptably on certain themes 
— not ambitiously, indeed, but acceptably, with 
directness and force. She finds real happiness 
in using her pen, and in many ways is able to give 
pleasure to others. The little poem addressed to 
a neighbor or a relative finds great favor in affec- 
tion's partial eyes, and is as welcome as a bouquet 
of hothouse flowers, sent where flowers are few to 
a lover of bloom and fragrance. In many direc- 
tions the simplicity and sweetness of this woman's 
nature are becoming helpful, because her need 
of expression has forced her to find an outlet. 



36 WITH MY NEIGIIBOIiS 

All over the country there are women leading 
patient, uneventful lives which might be won- 
derfully brightened if they could find relief from 
drudgery in some pleasant pursuit not belonging 
to the household's monotonous round. The very 
general interest in china painting, and in other 
forms of decorative art, has uplifted many a life 
and set it free from depressing dullness. High 
art may be shocked at some of the attempts at 
beauty's reproduction which afford such pleasure 
to the innocent mothers and daughters who finish 
and frame them, yet the need of expression is 
legitimate and healthful. The crazy-quilt, fol- 
lowing the patchwork chefs-d'oeuvre of an ear- 
lier generation, marked an advancing tide, and 
the constantly improving taste of each decade 
shows that the work is not stationary. It is con- 
stantly progressing. 

Do not let anybody discourage you in indulg- 
ing a fancy for some pretty accomplishment. If 
you love flowers and wish to cultivate them, and 
if you like botany and desire to study it, let no- 
body persuade you that you are wasting your 
time. You are not wasting it. You are em- 
ploying it to the best advantage. If you are fond 
of any lino of study, pursue it doggedly, though 
you can give but ten minutes a day to the text- 
book. There lies your need of expression, and 
it is your duty to gratify it. Duty may be owed 



THE NEED OF EXPRESSION 37 

by a woman to herself quite as much as to her 
husband and her children. 

Never fancy that your day is over. I met a 
matron, her hair silvered with the snows of 
seventy winters, and I said, " How sweet and 
bright and young she is!" "Yes," said my 
friend, " she is valiantly attacking Hebrew, in 
these days of her leisure, and finds great enjoy- 
ment in storming that fortress I" 

A woman is never too old to find expression 
for her soul in some occupation or endeavor 
which can bring her happiness. The richer one 
is in herself the more will she have to bestow, 
wherever her lot may be cast. 



X 

THE MOTHER WHO IS CROWDED OUT 

"After a mother is fifty years old there is no 
longer any room for her in the world, and she 
ought to die." The words were bitter, but they 
were not bitterly spoken. Bather, the intona- 
tions of the patient voice were plaintive, and the 
care-lined face of the elderly woman who uttered 
the sentiment wore no look of pretest. Instead, 
there was in it an expression of resignation, of 
acquiescence in something which must be ac- 
cepted and endured. 

Thinking of the many aged mothers loved to 
idolatry by the men and women who are their 
"bairns" still, albeit some of them have silver 
hair and bent shoulders, thinking of the middle- 
aged, who bear as unquestioned a sceptre as when 
their babies were in the nursery, though these 
are now " young people " with the hopes and 
aspirations and work of the young, I wondered 
whether my friend were not a solitary sufferer. 
Observation has convinced me to the contrary, 



THE MOTHEE WHO IS CROWDED OUT 39 

and it is my conviction that somebody should 
uplift a note of warning in the ears of thought- 
less, not heartless, daughters. 

"The wind is in the east this morning," said 
a girl at the breakfast-table, with a significant 
glance around at her brothers and sisters, and a 
little pucker of the mouth in the direction of 
the matron whose hand trembled a little as she 
poured out the coffee. 

" Your mother is very tired and evidently 
not well," ventured an acquaintance, later, when 
"mother's irritability" was freely discussed in 
her hearing by these young people. 

" That may be," said one of them, lightly, 
"but she needn't be so cross. We are all will- 
ing to do our share in helping her, but she 
doesn't know that the world has moved since her 
day. " 

Neither did the young daughter realize that, 
however far the world may have moved since the 
mother's "day," it never has moved, and never 
will, from the shadow of the Fifth Command- 
ment. I have a standing quarrel, too, with the 
statement that a person's "day" is pre-eminently 
her day of youth. There is a "day" for forty, 
for sixty, for eighty, and each "day" is as im- 
portant and as honorable, if well spent, as the 
other — the later as gloryful as the earlier. There 
is one beauty of the rosebuds, and another beauty 



40 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

of the ripened wheat, and another again of the 
snowflakes. 

But, of course, I know what girls mean when 
they talk of older people who have had their day. 
And I am always greatly perplexed and troubled 
if I see that the effect of education, in a wider 
sense than the mother knew, has been to make 
the younger look down upon, or patronize, the 
elder woman. The plain mother has made sacri- 
fices, some of them very heavy, to obtain for her 
children the opportunities and advantages of the 
hest schools. She has toiled early and late, spent 
lonely hours, felt in her soul at times a humili- 
ating depression because she could not keep pace 
with her children, and it is simply unspeakably 
low and mean for her daughters ever to snub her, 
or to be impatient with her, or to manoeuvre to 
keep her in the background. 

Girls, you cannot be too tender of your moth- 
ers in the every-day round. Do not suffer them 
to be crowded out. 



XI 

SOCIETY GIRLS 

The judgment of those who look only upon 
the surface is apt to be sweeping, and is some- 
times unfair to the society girl. We use the 
term in its accepted, conventional meaning, re- 
ferring here to the girl who either in her own 
life or through the kindness of wealthy parents 
has her time at her own disposal, may come and 
go as she pleases, and enjoy the pleasures of in- 
dependence. 

Kitty at the farm-house washing dishes, strain- 
ing the milk, and saving her pence all summer 
to buy her simple autumn finery, regards the 
lavish expenditure of the girl whom she has 
known only as the luxurious summer boarder 
with a feeling that is half surprise, half censure, 
and now and then wholly envy. The girl behind 
the counter and the girl in the factory gaze with 
admiration on this brilliant creature whose gowns 
are miracles of fit and finish, whose gloves cost 
more in a season than they can earn in a year, 



42 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and often there steals into their hearts a chilly 
resentment against that Providence which has 
made her life so easy and their lives so hard. 

•'• I could be lovely," said a young girl one day, 
c -'if I were placed as Miss Mary is, in a beau- 
tiful home, with a carriage to ride in, servants to 
wait on me. and a mother to spend her time in 
devising plans for my pleasure. I love music 
and art and all refined enjoyments as much as 
she does, but I have no time to look at pictures, 
no money to spend on concerts, and am con- 
demned to toil like a slave for the mere necessa- 
ries of existence. There are moments when I am 
so weary that I hate God and don't want to be 
good. Why could not God have made things 
evener, given me a little more and her a little 
less ?" 

Common as this way of looking at it may be, 
lying as it does at the root of much of the seeth- 
ing discontent of our day, it is based upon an 
utter mistake. None of us should measure our 
conditions and circumstances by a glance at those 
who are more favorably placed than ourselves, 
but, on the contrary, by comparison with those 
who are less happily and less richly endowed. 
Always there is somebody beneath us to whom 
our lot appears exceedingly fortunate, and who 
would be glad to accept our limitations if our 
good things could accompany them. The Lord, 



SOCIETY GIELS 43 

who has a plan for every life, appoints to each of 
us the sphere and the opportunity best fitted for 
our development. 

It is also unfair to the society girl to under- 
rate her temptations and deny her deserved credit 
for her triumphs. Little as the other understands 
it, the rich girl has her own pitfalls. No one has 
more allurements to the indulgence of selfish 
ease than she whose path has been always smooth. 
In fact, however, we need not go beyond the cir- 
cle of society girls to find fair and sweet exam- 
ples of Christian living. 

An incident may illustrate my meaning. There 
was a story of poverty common enough. A 
father out of work, a mother keeping a little 
shop, a mortgage, a child dead, another dying 
— heavy were the clouds and dark the portents 
brooding over a little home. In a roundabout 
way the tale of calamity, past and present, reached 
the ear of a girl who wore the purple ribbon and 
silver cross of the King's Daughters. She inter- 
ested her Ten, visits and inquiries were made, 
the young ladies went to the city missionary and 
the charity commissioners to investigate the case, 
and discovering it to be one of real need, they set 
the little family on its feet, sending the mother 
and baby to the country, engaging some one to 
attend the shop, and never resting till they found 
employment for the father. Every girl in the 



44 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

Ten belonged to the class known as society 
girls. 

So far from wasting their time in a desperate 
attempt to keep up with the fashions, many of 
these girls use their leisure in pursuing lines of 
advanced study, fitting themselves to be conge- 
nial wives for educated men, and for mothering 
the next generation. Earnest, cultivated, and 
gently bred, such girls give tone to a commu- 
nity, gather in clubs to study and discuss sub- 
jects worth considering, and belong to that order 
which in America constitutes the true nobility. 



XII 

A child's savings-bank 

"You see," said the little mother, with great 
complacency, "we are early beginning to teach 
Freddie to save his pennies. Here is his bank, 
the cleverest contrivance you ever saw. You 
drop the penny on the dog's paw, the dog opens 
his mouth and wags his tail, and the money drops 
through this tiny slit into a receptacle below, 
while the watch-dog remains on guard. Mr. G. 
and I have determined to guide our children 
from the first in ways of economy, for we agree 
in our contempt of a spendthrift. Freddie al- 
ready takes satisfaction in feeling the increasing 
heftiness of his cute little bank." 

The situation awakened reflections as I lis- 
tened, and I wondered very much whether the 
young parents, having been imjnessed with a 
partial view of an excellent thing in character, 
were not, after all, making a mistake in the bent 
they were giving their golden-haired boy. 

Thrift is a praiseworthy virtue. It is a sturdy 



46 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

plant, flourishing and flowering in soils which 
refuse rootage to weaker growths. To be thrifty 
is to be self-denying, to be frugal, to work stead- 
ily towards an ultimate goal, to be honest in 
one's dealings, to lay up for the rainy day. The 
thrifty family are provident and forehanded. 
They have assets, resources. They build up a 
reputation for solvency and their record chal- 
lenges investigation. 

But the more I consider the matter the more 
it comes home to me that thrift is only praise- 
worthy as its exercise affords opportunity for a 
still higher virtue to flourish, as it prepares the 
way for generosity. The liberal soul sees far- 
ther, builds better, and does more good in the 
world than the merely thrifty soul. To save 
that one may give is noble. To give systematic- 
ally while one saves is noble. To be self-deny- 
ing to one's own ease, one's own indulgence, one's 
own rash impulses, and thus to have it in one's 
power to bestow without grudging and with lav- 
ish hand, is to live according to a grand ideal. 

I would have the child's savings-bank by all 
means, and I would encourage the child to put by 
his pennies ; but it should be that his little hand 
might have it in its power by-and-by to put a 
pair of shoes on another child's little naked feet, 
or to help send a missionary-box to a Sunday- 
school on the frontier. Our children lose an 



A CHILD'S SAVINGS-BANK 47 

important part of education because our methods 
of giving are so often slipshod and spasmodic 
— not, in fact, methods, but sporadic impulses. 

The child's giving should be his own, and to this 
end every child should have something belong- 
ing to him and under his individual control, of 
and from which his gifts should be taken. As 
soon as the little boy or girl is old enough, and 
that is very early in life, the savings-bank ought 
to be supplemented by the weekly allowance. 
Let this be regularly given to the child and the 
child taught to administer it wisely. As years 
come and go the youthful income will naturally 
be increased, and its owner, taught to save and 
to spend with discretion, will be prepared in a 
measure for one of the great obligations of life. 

No child should be taught to hoard. If a 
parent observe in a child the dawning of a ten- 
dency to the niggard clutch upon toys, candies, 
or pennies, which is a straw to indicate future 
stinginess, he or she should at once take meas- 
ures to correct this evil. A miser and a spend- 
thrift are equally despicable in Divine and human 
eyes. 

Money is responsibility. " Give an account 
of thy stewardship" will be said, is indeed being 
now said, day by day, to every one of us. The 
little savings-bank is chiefly valuable as it fur- 
nishes a stepping-stone towards the formation 



48 WITH MY NEIGHBOKS 

of right principles in the nse of that with which 
our Father has intrusted us. 

I knew a dear old lady in a rural part of Now 
England, a woman keenly intellectual but with 
the spirit of a child. Her means had never been 
large, and she had saved in many a small way, 
to the amusement of town - bred kindred, who 
scoffed at the using of a match twice and the 
careful looking after crumbs. But when a col- 
lection was taken for the American Board of 
Commissioners for Foreign Missions her contri- 
bution far exceeded that of richer people, and 
when a church was to be erected in her town- 
ship her name was put down for $500, a truly 
queenly gift in her circumstances. Frugality 
Avith her was the handmaid of liberality. 



XIII 

THE KEEPING OF DIARIES AND ACCOUNTS 

In the early part of a new year many people 
feel an impulse towards living with greater pre- 
cision than formerly. It is quite natural to 
make good resolutions of various kinds when the 
new start on the calendar, the new leaf turned 
over in the book of time, gives the suggestion 
and the opportunity. And the making of reso- 
lutions is not at all a bad thing. Even if they 
are not kept as strenuously as they are made, yet, 
when prompted by a quickening of conscience 
and a desire for improvement, they do give us a 
forward impulse, and we are the better for that ; 
the pace for a while is less languid, the goal is 
more certainly in view. 

In common with a thousand other women, I 
love to handle and possess one of those little red- 
covered volumes which at the head of each white 
page presents a day and a date for the whole 
round year. I have sometimes for several con- 
secutive years kept my regular daily record of 



50 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

happenings, of visits made and received, of texts 
and sermons heard with profit, of expenses for 
household and personal needs, of money given to 
charity or set to the account of religious work. 
I can testify, therefore, to the extreme satisfac- 
tion which is the legitimate result of such a diary 
persistently and accurately kept. It gives one 
in outline a family record or the story of an in- 
dividual year, memory easily supplying details 
when the main facts are jotted down in the order 
and at the time of their occurrence. 

In a large family, where all are busy in their 
several ways, one son or one daughter might be 
constituted the family secretary, his or her duty 
being to write the story of each day before retir- 
ing at night. Though, happily, in every house- 
hold there are long and uneventful periods when 
nothing out of the common stirs the heart to 
alarm or excites apprehension, still in the gentle 
flow of family life enough will always be found 
to make such a history full of interest to those 
most intimately concerned. 

In a family of which I have knowledge one of 
the parents has kept such a record as I am de- 
scribing for twenty-five years, writing it day by 
day. The little book slips into his pocket when 
travelling, and he jots the brief record down with 
his stylographic pen while the cars are whirled 
along, and at home it lies on his desk just at his 



THE KEEPING OF DIARIES AND ACCOUNTS 51 

hand, as much in sight as the Bihle that is his 
daily companion. Sometimes at the table, or in 
conversation with friends, it is desirable to re- 
call definitely something that took place a dozen 
years ago. Father simply looks in the little book 
covering the year under consideration and the 
written record settles the matter. 

So much goes on in the story of a family — 
white-letter days of birth, betrothal, and bridal ; 
red-letter days of feast and festival ; darkened 
days of pain and sorrow, brightened and soothed 
by Heaven's own peace — it is worth while to set 
their record down in a somewhat permanent 
form. As for the keeping of accounts, most of 
us know only too well that our expenditures 
need the wholesome check of careful scrutiny. 
We know, also, that our benefactions are too 
sporadic, too much arranged as if by accidental 
or incidental impulses. A wise economy dictates 
our careful balancing of outgo against income, 
and our giving to missions at home and abroad, 
to the poor among us, and to all who have a 
claim on us as our Lord's representative, ac- 
cording to rule and not according to caprice. 
A consecrated account -book in every Christian 
household would multiply the gifts to the Lord's 
treasury ten to one hundred fold. 



XIV 

A BLESSING IN DISGUISE 

Blessings in disguise are apt to come to ns 
wearing grave and frowning faces, and we meet 
them with averted eyes and hands trembling. It 
is because we do not know how precious they are, 
and with what tender and fragrant sweetness they 
are fraught that we turn away, finding later how 
divine was their ministry and how beautiful their 
meaning. Once and again during our pilgrim- 
age these messengers cross our path, but we sel- 
dom recognize them until they have done their 
errands and gone — those errands sometimes half 
frustrated by our perverse and blind reception, or 
conception, of what God intended by this or that 
special providential dealing. 

You are, for instance, full of plans for a cer- 
tain period of time and exceedingly busy, so busy 
that you are sure you cannot spare a moment 
for a single interruption. Nor, by the utmost 
effort, can you crowd in another engagement. 
Every waking moment is occupied, and the 



A BLESSING IN DISGUISE 53 

thronging duties and anxieties of the day in- 
vade the night so that your sleep is broken and 
disturbed. Now, at precisely the most incon- 
venient hour of your life, as it seems to your 
thought, there comes the intrusion of a fit of 
illness. You resent the pain, the nervous weari- 
ness, the time you must spend and waste in bed, 
and you beg the physician to give you a tonic 
which will do its work quickly and efficaciously 
and set you again on your feet. Very likely you 
say, in that incipient stage of illness which is 
simply solicitous and irritating : " I have no time 
to be ill, doctor. I must have my hands free for 
my work." 

The doctor smiles and drops a soothing word. 
His tones are encouraging, and you do not notice 
that he makes you no pledges and that he is 
chary of promises. You resign yourself to wait 
until time and rest and remedies shall have had 
their beneficial influence upon you, and then, 
you hardly know how it happens, all thought of 
the neglected tasks drifts away from you, and 
you lie still and are tranquil, and others take up 
your duties and carry out your plans, and the 
world goes on. 

The world would go on if you were taken out 
of it, for, though the workers drop out of the 
ranks, the work itself never stops. No one of 
us is essential in any place, and it is well for us 



54: WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

occasionally to enter into a realization of this 
fact, which, commonplace as it is in the utter- 
ance, is still far from being fully accepted by our 
understanding. 

Gradually health returns, and with it a new 
poise, a new freshness, a new youthfulness of 
feeling. The first walk, the first drive, after an 
illness, how eventful they appear, and how de- 
lightful ! We did not remember that the view 
around the familiar turn in the road was so en- 
trancing ; we are surprised at the beauty of the 
roses in our neighbor's garden ; the young girls 
in the village never looked so charming before, 
and we wonder if it is that the quaintly pic- 
turesque costumes just now in vogue are more 
becoming than any dress ever worn by youthful 
girlhood before. What is the secret ? 

Presently we discover that we are ourselves 
rested. Those days in bed were doing for us 
what nothing else could have done ; they were 
giving to every organ of the body and to every 
faculty of the soul a chance to stop the exertion 
which was wearing the machinery out. We have 
been, so to speak, in the dry-dock for repairs, 
and the illness we repined at was a blessing in 
disguise. 

Could we but see it, there are other and famil- 
iar experiences which bear the same character. 
The stupid and clumsy maid, who taxes your 



A BLESSING IN DISGUISE 55 

patience and ingenuity to make up for her blun- 
ders and to remedy her accidents, is developing 
in you sweetness, gentleness, and tact. The ob- 
durate pupil, who is wilful and headstrong, and 
apparently incapable of attending to lessons with 
any heedful interest, is bringing out in you those 
qualities of energy, of magnetism, of versatility, 
which will enable you hereafter to control classes 
of such boys and influence them for their unend- 
ing advantage. A little thought will show to 
many of us how full of good and rich in abiding 
helpfulness are our blessings in disguise. 



XV 

CONCERNING INTERRUPTIONS 

It is probable that interruptions are intended 
by our Heavenly Father to be part of our educa- 
tional course in this room of His universe, else 
they would not so persistently intrude upon our 
busiest days. One may test her growth in grace by 
the spirit in which she receives and accepts inter- 
ruptions, by the use she makes of them, by the 
help or the hindrance they prove in her day's work. 

Many of us, laying out the plan of our week's 
engagements on Monday, resolve to accomplish 
a certain amount by Saturday. We are excep- 
tional if the amount be not a large one, taxing 
to the full our powers of mind and body. Few 
of us are contented to drift inactive and inert on 
the stream of time ; we are driven by a force 
which impels us to action, as the engine is moved 
by the steam which sets its wheels revolving. It 
might be well if we could sometimes be less in- 
tense, if occasionally the grace of tranquillity 
were ours in larger measure. 



CONCERNING INTERRUPTIONS 57 

Most of us, however, have plenty to do which 
must be done by somebody. If we shirk or are 
self-indulgent, others will have to undertake an 
undue proportion of labor. The housemother 
cannot drop her tasks into other hands, can at 
best only delegate some and share others. But 
how eagerly she longs at times for a long, clear 
morning, with no breaks, no needless worries, 
no fretting, harassing bits interjected into the 
stream which might move on so calmly were it 
let alone. She has a sister in a distant State, 
and it is impressed upon her that she ought to 
write a long, gossipy letter to this absent one, 
telling her the family news, reaching to her the 
clasp of kinship, letting her know that she is 
still spoken and thought of in the old home and 
important yet in the family counsels. By much 
planning and managing the busy matron of whom 
we are speaking secures a space of time, a mar- 
gin so to speak, which she can devote to this 
pleasant duty, but just as pen, ink, and paper are 
before her a friendly visitor runs in, ostensibly 
to ask a question, really to spend an idle half- 
hour. The visitor is perhaps agreeable and, it 
may be, entertaining, but she has played the part 
of the fretting moth. 

This interruption is followed by another and 
legitimate one — an outcry from the door in front 
of the house. Tommy has hurt his hand badly 



58 WITH MY XEIGHBOES 

with a knife that somehow slipped when he was 
whittling, and mother must bind it up. Then, 
of all the days in the year, her good man comes 
home early to-day and looks for entertainment; 
her letter must be postponed till a more conve- 
nient season. 

But there is another side. Not long ago a 
woman who has done much excellent work in 
literature, and who has been a blessing to her 
generation, said, cheerfully : " Perhaps I would 
never have accomplished anything if I had not had 
so much to contend with. My books have been 
written bit by bit through incessant interrup- 
tions ; my poems have been built line by line 
over the kneading-board. I have taught my boy 
Latin and thought out my articles at the same 
time.'*' In this case the woman had learned the 
rare art of dominating interruptions. Her con- 
centration had become a habit. She was not ea- 
sily disconcerted by the intrusion of a call, or a 
visit, or a round of housework in the morning, or 
the beating of a cake, or throwing together of a 
batch of biscuits. From first to last she Avas 
mistress of herself, and able to gather up the 
fragments of her day and make of them a sphere. 

Few of us are able to secure the undisturbed 
leisure we would like for reading the Bible and 
prayer. In one or another form "the world is 
too much with us, late and soon." AVe have to 



CONCERNING INTERRUPTIONS 59 

gather the manna day hy day, a little at a time, 
and, though we enter into our closets, we are 
often compelled to leave them hefore we have 
had the restful communion for which we yearn. 
In view of the crowding interruptions which 
hinder our spiritual progress, it is well to form 
the habit of ejaculatory prayer — the swift, brief 
heart's cry to God for help and refreshment at 
the moment. Never does such a cry wing it- 
self to the throne and receive no answer. "As 
thy day thy strength shall be," and in every 
" Oh, my Father !" waits the answer, " Here, My 
child." 

Above all things, let us not fret at our inter- 
ruptions, nor suffer them to bring to our brows 
the frown of annoyance, to our lips the impa- 
tient word. Better use them as tools to shape 
our lives ; better receive them as gifts which 
shall presently enrich us. 



XVI 
SUNDAY READING 

One bright summer Sabbath afternoon a busy 
clergyman in a certain city found it necessary 
to make a pastoral call upon a distant parish- 
ioner who was ill, availing himself for the pur- 
pose of a line of horse-cars, which are never so 
crowded as on the Lord's Day, since their objec- 
tive points are respectively a ferry and a beau- 
tiful park. While waiting for a car upon the 
street corner he observed a lady, young, taste- 
fully dressed, and of remarkable grace of move- 
ment and loveliness of face, who, like himself, 
had an errand upon the line of the road. Was 
she going, a very spirit of spring, of sunshine, 
and of song, to some bedside of suffering ? or 
had she been sitting, the centre of a happy, in- 
terested circle, telling dear little children about 
the Saviour who came to be their best and strong- 
est Friend ? or was she the delight and darling of 
some household which waited impatiently for her 
return ? The clergyman, with daughters of his 



SUNDAY READING 61 

own about the same age, observed the pure Ma- 
donna face, the stately bearing, and the book, in 
an embroidered cover, in the faultlessly gloved 
hand ; and then, as both passengers found ad- 
jacent seats in a car, his eye fell on the open 
page in which the girl was presently completely 
absorbed, and its title at the head revealed the 
book to be a sensational novel by a second-rate 
author — a dangerous book for a girl's reading on 
even a week-day ! There came a revulsion of feel- 
ing in the mind of the minister ; and the young- 
woman, whose Sunday reading in a public place 
openly proclaimed her to be a careless keeper of 
the Sabbath, and a person lacking in mental 
culture as well, fell several degrees in the esti- 
mation of the kind observer, who had fancied 
her one of our every-day saints. 

A great change has come over the feeling and 
modified the conduct of many professors of re- 
ligion since the period of my girlhood. Then 
few thoughtful church members pursued their 
secular reading on the Sabbath. A broad line of 
distinction as to the books and papers proper to 
the hallowed day and customary to week-days 
ran through family life. "Where now one finds 
the young people openly reading the monthly 
magazines, the current novels, the latest books 
of travel, or essays in criticism, then the absence 
of these was the rule, and the reading was of a 



62 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

kind not always profoundly interesting, perhaps, 
but calculated to elevate the soul above things 
secular and to deepen spirituality. 

Whatever the reasons, and they are doubtless 
complex, the tone of thought, and the general 
practice, have undergone modification during 
the last quarter-century. Less than that time 
has elapsed since a young man, a college gradu- 
ate and a social leader, was spending a vacation 
month in the Adirondacks, and one Sabbath 
morning, under the shadow of the pines, was dis- 
covered by a friend buried in a book to the ex- 
clusion of outside interests for the time. 

"Why, my dear Will, you are not reading a 
novel, are you ?" was the inquiry. 

The man looked brightly up, with the frank 
eyes and confident manner of his twenty -one 
years. " I'm not a model, doctor, by any means, 
and I don't set myself up for one, but I'm not 
quite so bad a fellow as that." 

The answer showed, like a demonstration in 
mathematics, what the home training had been 
here — a training that some might denominate 
narrow and Puritanical, but which formed char- 
acter on grand lines and gave a strength and sta- 
bility which held. More of this same Puritan- 
ical training in these days might make business 
honor a safer quantity, and keep young men from 
perilous tampering with the temptations which 



SUNDAY READING 63 

allure them on every side in our exciting and 
hurrying life. 

I think, however, that I hear a reader ask, 
with a practical intent, for suggestions as to ap- 
propriate Sunday reading, and in the hope of 
being helpful, I will indicate some good authors 
and good books who and which are easily acces- 
sible, and sure to be interesting as well as profit- 
able. 

I do not here recommend the Bible, though no 
other book is so fascinating when properly ap- 
proached, because the Bible is Monday's book 
and Saturday's book as well as Sunday's fittest 
companion. A copy of that classic, " The Land 
and the Book," is a good investment for the 
family library, and with its lavish illustrations 
and choice information is pleasing to all young 
people, and to older ones who go to Sunday- 
school — an expensive book, but one which lasts 
a lifetime or several lifetimes. This is worth 
having. Lately I have derived great pleasure 
from a book entitled " Christ in the Old Testa- 
ment ; or, The Great Argument," also by Dr. 
Thomson, a son of the former author ; and, 
though the name has a theological sound, the 
book itself is popular in style and of simply 
wonderful charm. " God in His World," by Hen- 
ry Mills Allien, is another very suggestive book, 
of a somewhat mystical type which thoughtful 



04 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

people will enjoy. "The Still Hour," by Pro- 
fessor Phelps, never wears out, but may be read 
again and again. The sermons of F. W. Rob- 
ertson or of Phillips Brooks are delightful Sun- 
day afternoon reading. 

In the line of biography the range is very wide. 
The lives of Bishop Hannington and of Eev. 
John G. Paton surpass in vivid personal interest 
and dramatic force anything recently published ; 
but from Judson onward it is to the memoirs of 
the foreign missionary that we must turn if we 
would read of heroes and martyrs of whom the 
world was not worthy, being stirred to enthu- 
siasm as we read. " Memorials of a Quiet Life " 
and " The Life of the Baroness Bunsen " retain 
their place upon my own shelves as ever fresh, 
and to be read over and over on Sunday after- 
noons. 

"The Schonberg-Cotta Chronicles" and the 
succeeding books from the pen of Mrs. Charles, 
and nearly all the books of Miss C. M. Yonge, 
are good reading for young people, and their 
high religious ideal and pure tone and atmos- 
phere lift them to the Lord's Day height. 

How long is it, may I ask, since you last read 
the "Pilgrim's Progress." A dozen years, did 
you say ? Then pardon me if I remind you that 
the immortal book may be read through once 
every year without losing an atom of its mag- 



SUNDAY READING 65 

netic charm. Possibly you have never read it, 
if you belong to my younger set of friends — 
matrons whose girlish time was taken up by the 
engrossing demands of the higher feminine edu- 
cation. If so, you have yet a great pleasure be- 
fore you. I am sorry your childhood missed the 
dearest of human books, but don't defer making 
Bunyan's acquaintance one hour longer than you 
can help. 



XVII 
A QUESTION OF HAKMOXY 

Oyer and over again the question is asked by 
busy women — farmers' wives, whose days are full 
of care, women with small incomes in towns 
where they constantly meet socially (as why 
should they not ?) women with large means — 
" How shall we harmonize the needful daily 
drudgery with the development which we crave ? 
"Where are we to find the time to keep up our 
reading ? Who will do our sewing while we at- 
tend the literary society ? How are we to keep 
pace with our children ?" 

The last inquiry is the most touching and most 
earnest of all. It is no slight thing for a middle- 
aged mother, worn and spent by a life of almost 
incessant toil, to see her daughters drifting away 
from her, partly because of the very advantages 
which they owe to her loving self-denial. 

I think that we may safely assert that duties, 
real duties, never conflict. The mother must 
ascertain just how much of her daily work is a 



A QUESTION OF HARMONY 67 

duty, and then she must ask herself whether 
duty to her family does not demand that their 
mother shall be saved to them. It does not 
greatly help the woman I have in mind to advise 
her to hire a servant, for she has so long done 
her work, or the most of it, that a servant would 
be in her way. She would hardly know how to 
direct a woman not her sister or her daughter. 
She would feel a strange diffidence in ordering 
her, and, at bottom, is reluctant to have an alien 
element in her clean, spotless kitchen. This 
may be foolish and unreasonable, yet it neverthe- 
less is true of the good woman of my thought. 
She prefers to do her work herself. 

She also does not need the often repeated in- 
junction to make up plain clothes for her children, 
and dispense with superfluous ruffling and tuck- 
ing. For some years she has left the tucking 
and braiding to her girls, and her share of the 
family sewing has been largely the care of the 
mending-basket. She is not quite so strong as 
she used to be. Her step is less active. She 
often has headaches, and her back — why, there 
is a gnawing pain there which compels her to 
"waste time lying down," much often against 
her will. 

Now, how shall this mother harmonize those 
chords in her life which do not precisely vibrate 
to melody? Shall she repress the cry of her 



68 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

famished intellect and suffer her old hook knowl- 
edge, a foundational knowledge once highly- 
prized, to pass altogether from her memory? 
Shall she give up or shall she go on ? Chautau- 
qua has answered this question helpfully for 
some. Among the women whom Chautauqua 
enrolls in her several classes are many such — 
women who have learned to long for some life 
beyond the drudging routine of mere domestic- 
ity, though heart and soul and body they are 
women who belong to the home, and who are 
not willing to have any existence separate from 
the household. But there are women too busy, 
too timid, too untrained, and too self-denying to 
take a Chautauqua course. It is beyond them. 
The lost habit of attention to study cannot be 
regained, and, if it could, they cannot spare the 
necessary time for continuous and thoughtful 
reading. What shall these do? 

Their case is by no means a desperate one. 
In the first place, every woman who belongs 
to this particular class, whether in town or in 
country, should intelligently consider her own 
needs. She should exact assistance from her 
family. It may be pleasanter to her to let Min- 
nie spend a whole morning in piano practice 
while Minnie's mother does the baking, but there 
is a manifest injustice in having any work un- 
equally divided, and Minnie's character will be 



A QUESTION OF HARMONY 69 

more symmetrically developed, her future useful- 
ness and peace of mind will be more assured, if 
she practise less and help mother more. Daugh- 
ters are often censured for thoughtless indiffer- 
ence to the comfort of mothers when only the 
mothers are in fault, for they insist on taking 
and holding the laboring oar, and they keep the 
daughters in ignorance of the relief the latter 
could give and be. The type of woman we are 
studying is especially blameworthy here. 

Next, this mother with the brain less quickly 
responsive than of old to anything which taxes 
it may find it a pleasant and profitable exercise 
to do this very simple thing— viz., to sit down 
beside her youngest child and help her study her 
lessons. No matter how easy they are the mother 
will not find them beneath her, for our juvenile 
text-books are in these days the work of the best 
and most enthusiastic teachers in our country. 
The child will take hold with a new interest, 
now that mother is helping her so grandly, and 
the break made in the usual routine, the effort 
to secure a half -hour or an hour every day for 
such an end, will rest and refresh and renew the 
older student in a marvellous manner. 

If the mother does not care for reading and 
cannot arouse herself to interest in a book, even 
in such a book as "John Halifax, Gentleman," let 
her not think herself beyond the pale of clever 



70 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and bright womanhood. Books are not every- 
body's tools. The fields before the door contain 
plants and herbs which she has always liked for 
their color and perfume, and, involuntarily, in 
her walks she has gathered sheaves of these fra- 
grances and brought them home. No woman 
who loves a flower is too old to study botany, 
and some of the best botanists I have known have 
been farmers' wives, unlearned in other direc- 
tions, but able to classify the flora around their 
homes, and persistent students of Nature in her 
various moods. " Do you know," said a country 
neighbor to me the other day, as I strolled along 
a lane near my temporary summer home — "do 
you know that on yonder hill I have found fifty 
varieties of ferns alone?" 

A woman may not care for a story or an essay, 
but she may be delighted with a microscope, or 
she may enjoy working with a hammer and plane 
and making things as men do. Whatever pur- 
suit, outside of daily housework, a woman can 
enjoy will go far to keeping her abreast of her 
active young people, and to conserve her own 
youthfulness of spirit. 

Lastly, dear mother, do not be over-anxious. 
Do your best, and leave the rest in the care of 
the Heavenly Father. Harmony and grace never 
grow by fretting. To serve is woman's work, 
but she must not be cumbered with service. 



XVIII 
SUMMER CHURCH-GOTXG 

Away frem home and our own particular 
church there is apt to be a little letting down 
the bars of habit. We take to ourselves a de- 
gree of freedom, and perhaps by a certain train 
of reasoning, not far removed from sophistry, 
convince our minds that we may worship God 
as well in our rooms, or on a veranda with our 
books, as by attendance at church. With incli- 
nation to fortify argument, one may bring her- 
self to believe almost anything. 

Yet the obligation to spend the Sabbath strict- 
ly as conscience and custom dictate is not re- 
moved by absence from the town and the church 
where we are known to everybody. There our 
example would not tell upon others as it does in a 
strange place, among people unfamiliar, and pos- 
sibly willing by following in our steps to excuse 
themselves from a lapse which they cannot jus- 
tify. One quiet and refined family setting the 
fashion in a rural resort may lead a crowd of 



72 WITH MY NEIGIII50ES 

summer pleasure -seekers to attend the local 
churches on the Lord's Day, and the midweek 
meeting as well, so influential for the right are 
object-lessons. 

A lady who opened her charming mountain 
home to summer boarders was very much im- 
pressed by the fact that while applicants wrote 
to her inquiring about the table, the rooms, the 
shade, the chances for fishing and driving, and 
other amusements, the water in the well, the 
freedom from malaria, and everything that had 
to do with their physical comfort, no one asked 
about church privileges. It was significant to 
her — the thought of the comparatively small 
part this special advantage for spiritual growth 
played in the eyes of persons temporarily leaving 
home. 

Wearied as some of us are by the pressure of 
church Avork during nine months of the year, 
the wish for a vacation is natural and reason- 
able. But one may drop the responsibilities 
which burden her at home without also surren- 
dering the right to privileges. In the country 
church one is often divinely fed. Some of the 
most thoughtful and richly suggestive sermons 
I have ever heard I have listened to in country 
pulpits, and they live in memory still, marked 
as red-letter days, those Sabbaths of the soul, 
when the message from above came to me through 



SUMMER CHURCH-GOING 73 

the lips of messengers whose names were un- 
known to me as they spoke. The finest of the 
wheat is what God gives his people when they 
carry their religion, to use a common phrase, 
wherever they go. 

We need to remind ourselves that in this peri- 
od of luxurious and aesthetic living one cannot 
always and everywhere be comfortable. One 
may have stairs to climb to an audience-room, 
cold in winter and hot in summer, yet be repaid 
by a reward worth seeking, in eloquent and schol- 
arly preaching, in a spirituality which elevates 
and inspires. Soon after the Civil War a little 
band of people in West Virginia found themselves 
worshipping in a primitive school -house, Avith 
rough planks, backless, for seats, the green turf 
under their feet, and chinks in walls and roof 
letting in air and sky. "Never," wrote a friend, 
"have I been nearer to God than in that dear, 
rude little church ; never heard finer congrega- 
tional praise, nor more fervent prayer, nor better 
preaching." 

Wherever we are the obligation is to let our 
light shine. Shall we not do as we would at 
home, when home is behind us and our tent 
pitched temporarily by the beach or among the 
hills ? And as for our mental attitude and our 
spoken criticism, shall we not try to hold in 
abeyance that which is censorious in word and 



74 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

thought, and try to find only that which we ap- 
prove and admire ? 

Candid reflection will make it apparent to 
most of ns that our most profitable summer Sab- 
baths have not been those of desultory reading 
or of sitting under a tree with our books, or of 
lounging in our rooms, but those when, putting 
temptation to self-indulgence firmly aside, we 
have worshipped God among his people, and 
paid him the tribute of our presence in his holy 
temple. 



XIX 

WEDDIXG-BELLS 

The wedding - march always thrills us with 
swift interest and sympathy. We never grow 
indifferent to the beauty of the bride, to the 
pomp and pageantry of the simplest wedding, to 
the little details of the event — the white gown, 
the flowers, the bride's demeanor, the ceremony 
itself, the manliness and tender pride of the 
newly made husband. It would, indeed, be a 
hard and cynical heart which should fail to wish 
all joy and strength and blessing to the two who 
join hands in faith and love and set out on the 
path of life together. All the better chance for 
happiness theirs if there has been a brief en- 
gagement. 

There has been in recent years a change very 
much for the better in at least one aspect of 
the wedding preparations. Formerly, in families 
where most of the sewing was done at home, the 
bride's trousseau was so serious an affair that it 
often went far towards making an end of the 



76 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

bride herself before the last stitch was taken. 
There had to be sets, full a half-dozen or more, 
of everything in the line of underclothing. One 
bride whom I recall, the daughter of people in 
rather moderate circumstances, made with her 
own hands eighteen separate articles of four dif- 
ferent kinds of garments — seventy -two in all — 
tucked, flounced, lace-trimmed, ruffled, embroid- 
ered, and insertion-edged pieces of linen or cam- 
bric. This did not include any minor articles of 
costume, nor obviate the necessity laid upon her 
to hem quantities of towels and hem and hem- 
stitch sheets and pillow-cases for her housekeep- 
ing outfit. 

"She used to be so pretty," was whispered at 
the wedding. " Why, I would not have known 
her ; she is as pale as a ghost !" And indeed she 
was, poor child ! One would have thought her 
about to emigrate to a land where nothing could 
be bought and her wardrobe never be replenished, 
once its first supplies were exhausted. It was not 
wonderful that her health continued fragile long 
after marriage, and that her dear, first baby was 
a small bundle of nerves and temper, a trying 
morsel of humanity, who cried incessantly and 
slept under protest. 

I do not think our brides of the period regard 
their weddings as simply pegs on which to hang 
innumerable clothes. To most of them the gate 



WEDDING-BELLS 77 

which swings inward from the world into Eden 
on their wedding-day opens upon scenes of bless- 
ing and glad opportunity to do good and to add 
to the sunshine of life. No more beautiful and 
sacred thing exists on this earth than a new home, 
unless, perhaps, it be an old home, which has 
gathered around it the fidelities and the minis- 
trations of many years. Home is the dearest 
refuge for which hearts can hope and men and 
women strive in this mortal sphere, and it re- 
quires two, complementing and supplementing 
one another, to make a perfect home. 

The bride, on her day of gentle triumph, is 
fain to think that her skies will be all uncloud- 
ed. Far be it from her to admit that her good 
man is capable of the errors and perversities com- 
mon to the race. lie seems in her eyes abso- 
lutely without the possibility of fault and be- 
yond criticism. On his part she is regarded 
with an even more touching reverence. Half 
child, half angel, but wholly woman, and his 
very own, of course no other being ever was or 
ever will be like her. 

Yet, singularly enough, many youthful hus- 
bands and wives find pinpricks in their bubble 
of joy, and stand amazed when it collapses, or 
they unexpectedly tread on pebbles which hurt 
their feet and make them cry out with pain. 
John was brought up by one mother, Jane by 



78 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

another. In his family were certain standards, 
certain traditions, in hers another set of both, 
equally impressive and quite as conscientiously 
maintained and believed in. From the two fam- 
ilies a new and different one will be formed, par- 
taking probably of the best features of both. 
But the process of formation will be accompa- 
nied by some friction ; it will not be at once 
possible for the two, who have become one, to 
thoroughly understand and to grow perfectly 
well acquainted and at home with one another. 
The happiness of marriage, granting a stock of 
true love at the beginning, grows and flourishes, 
notwithstanding occasional small difficulties at 
the outset, and the most devoted husbands and 
wives are those who have passed years together. 

Love and candor and mutual respect, cement- 
ed by common-sense, build a good foundation. 
Over all the wedded hearts let us hope that 
prayers may be said and the new homes receive 
the divine benediction. 



XX 

A QUESTION OF PERSONAL LIBERTY 

When children are in the nursery and the 
school-room, neither old enough to form inde- 
pendent judgments nor to desire a line of action 
different from that which their parents elect in 
their behalf, the question of personal liberty is, of 
course, in abeyance. But as young people ma- 
ture the stirrings of their own lives are felt, and 
they cannot always accept the dictates of parental 
wisdom contentedly and in the spirit which makes 
for their advantage. 

From this quite natural, and, indeed, inevita- 
ble condition of affairs, friction and disagreement 
sometimes arise, and the situation becomes peril- 
ous to all concerned. Parents, by insisting on 
what they consider their rightful claims, may be- 
come tyrannical and inconsiderate of all except 
their own authority. Children, equally bent on 
maintaining their position, may forget the defer- 
ence due to those who have sheltered, provided 
for, and educated them from infancy to the period 



80 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

of awakening responsibility. The rift grows wider 
daily, and though there may not be actual hostil- 
ity there is on both sides a sense of injury and in- 
justice. The perfect tranquillity of the domestic 
life is marred, and the jarring chords produce dis- 
sonance in the melody. 

For example, in a certain very happy household, 
father, mother, sons, and daughters have, as a mat- 
ter of course, attended the same church for a num- 
ber of years. After a while a daughter discovers 
that she is not happily situated in that particular 
church. There is a side of her spiritual nature 
keenly receptive to influences which she does not 
find in the environment congenial and delightful 
to the rest of her family. It may be that much 
comes to this girl through her love of music and 
her appreciation of its nobler meanings, and the 
music in the home church is crude and color- 
less. Around the corner, or a few streets away, 
stands a church in which this portion of the ser- 
vice is elaborate and classic, where the music-lov- 
ing nature would find itself uplifted as on wings 
and the artistic side of the soul be satisfied in- 
stead of antagonized. 

Is it right or kind or Christian for parents in 
such a case to compel the grown daughter to re- 
main with them simply because they do not com- 
prehend her craving nor penetrate under the sur- 
face of her discontent ? Would it not be wise 



A QUESTION OF PERSONAL LIBERTY 81 

and tactful to give her freedom of action, and 
accord her the liberty of choice which, in a 
matter of this kind, every grown-up individual 
should possess ? By what right do they shut 
the door of her soul and restrict her growth 
towards the divine ? 

I have chosen music as only one illustration. 
Sometimes the pastoral ministrations, the preach- 
ing, the style of presenting ethical thought, the 
methods of work in a church, or the social at- 
mosphere, the trend of a congregation, are more 
acceptable to some members of the family than 
to others. A father in such a case, if he be ar- 
bitrary, may come down, as I have known fa- 
thers to do, with sledge-hammer firmness, saying, 
"You shall attend my church or none." This is 
a violation on his part of the first principles of 
Christian charity. N"o compulsion in matters of 
this kind should be laid upon conscience, and even 
the choice of caprice should be judiciously and 
tenderly dealt with. The important thing in a 
family is that the individuals in that family shall 
have room to grow symmetrically, to develop the 
best that is in them in a world that needs help, 
comfort, and brave battling for the right and the 
true. This is far more important than that an 
appearance of beautiful household unity shall al- 
ways be presented to society. 

In families where the children are trained from 
o 



82 WITII MY NEIGHBORS 

the earliest years to constant attendance at church 
on Sunday there will seldom arise any vital dif- 
ference of opinion on the subject of worshipping 
God when these children are grown up. No vital 
point is touched, no real truth endangered, by the 
fact that I, having arrived at manhood or woman- 
hood, prefer to attend a church or to unite with a 
church in one street while my family make choice 
of another. This is merely a question of soil and 
sunshine. Some plants prefer the lowlands, some 
nourish on the heights, but all lift faces to the 
same sky. 

Nothing can be worse for a man himself, how- 
ever excellent his course seem in his own eyes, 
than that he should become narrow and despotic, 
forcing on another, even if that other be his own 
child, conclusions which are necessarily along the 
line of arrested development. God save any of 
us from mistaking self-will for a desire to serve 
Him ! 



XXI 

THE GREAT GOOD 

" It is now two weeks since I heard of the great 
good that has come to little Mary." 

This sentence, beginning a letter of sympathy 
to a mother who had parted from a little child in 
circumstances of peculiar sadness, conveyed to the 
stricken heart its first gleam of comfort. " The 
great good that has come to little Mary \" 

Living in a new and primitive settlement, with 
kindred and friends more than a thousand miles 
away and no immediate neighbors, the mother had 
seen her darling sicken and die. Her little grave 
was within sight of the house, across an unfilled 
field, and since her bed had been hollowed there 
by her heart - stricken father's own hands the 
mother had not been able to raise her thoughts 
much higher than that scarred space. But the 
good man's letter came with a sweet, uplifting 
message. It reminded the mother that her child 
had been taken to life, to the dear presence of 
Christ, to fuller opportunities and wider privi- 



84 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

leges, never to be handicapped by pain or sin or 
sorrow. 

From the moment of reading the letter and of 
dwelling on " the great good " which the early 
translation to heaven meant, the mother bore her 
loneliness better. It was no longer desolation. 
It was the realization of a door in the house 
which had swung open into the near and almost 
visible heaven. 

Friends, if we could always feel thus about 
those who go, with what grace of patience, what 
composure, what blessedness should we bear the 
separations which are inevitable. How should 
we, in "all tribulation, walk with uplifted heads, 
expecting our Lord from the heavens \" 

" I do not fear death, I long for it. I do not 
look upon it as an evil, but as a blessing. Were 
it not for death, I could not believe that God is 
love." 

These were the words of a good man who was 
laid to rest one sweet June day beside the wife 
who had left him in her youth, more than thirty 
years ago, to tread the shining way to the city of 
the King. A full, bright, beneficent life, but its 
crown was in the going home. The " great good " 
came when the servant was bidden to hear the 
Lord's "Well done." The "great good" comes 
the sooner to our little ones if Jesus call them 
early. 



THE GREAT GOOD 85 

What most of us need;, in order that we may go 
on with our work unfalteringly, is a deep sense 
of the unity of the family bond on earth and in 
heaven. We need to feel in our souls that life 
spans the stream of death as day follows day over 
the bridges of safe and quiet sleep. 

At the funeral of a beloved only child, a dear 
girl eighteen years old, the pastor said to the 
agonized father and mother: "You could have 
sent this dear child away to school for a term of 
years and never looked upon her face during the 
interval, yet you would not have felt bereft in 
that absence. You could have placed her hand 
in that of another, and she might have gone with 
him. to the world's end and you would not have 
complained. Think of this separation as of those, 
only with an exceedingly abundant hope and faith 
that you will go to her, and you know not how 
soon !" 

Whatever else maybe in this world, the "old, 
old fashion of death " and the "older fashion of 
immortality " never go out. Always for some of 
us there are heartaches. Always for some of us 
there are regrets. But, if we believe in the res- 
urrection and the life, wo possess for evermore 
fulness of blessing and the peace that passeth 
understanding. 



XXII 
OUK GIRL AS A WOMAN OF BUSINESS 

Oxe of the prettiest, most animated features 
of city life presents itself to the pedestrian who 
has occasion to take a constitutional in the early 
morning or late afternoon, when the streets are 
filled with girls going to and from their daily 
work. American girls are always attractive, and 
never more so than in their twenties, with the 
bright eyes, delicate coloring, and air of refine- 
ment which here are monopolized by no class, 
but are the birthright of all. The general diffu- 
sion of knowledge, the intelligence consequent 
upon a thorough common-school education, and 
the honorable desire to be independent and self- 
supporting, combine to give our girls a manner 
at once charming and admirable — a manner win- 
some in the eyes of good men and women, and 
in itself an armor of protection against the wiles 
of unscrupulous and evil - minded members of 
society. It is so much to a young girl's credit, 
so worthy a thing, that she prefers to relieve a 



OUR GIRL AS A WOMAN OF BUSINESS 87 

toiling father of some of his burdens, to care for 
an ailing mother, or to lift some pressure of 
anxiety from her home dear ones, one would 
fancy the very fact strong enough as an argu- 
ment, in its way, to set our young business woman 
apart, and remove from her path all dangers 
from nets spread by outsiders. All fathers and 
sons and brothers, one would think, must feel 
the bond of honest comradeship with girls so 
brave, so straightforward, and so in earnest, but 
beyond this have no wish to draw, or to see these 
young girls drawn, into anything which bears 
even the appearance of evil. Every young girl 
is somebody's daughter, somebody's sister, some- 
body's friend, and society is very much concerned 
that its girls should be, not simply seem, but 
really be, pure, sweet, and above the suspicion 
of deceit and falseness. A man's ideal of his own 
womankind is always high, and it is safe to say 
that a girl cannot too highly value herself, nor 
keep her ideals too lofty. 

Speaking of a young woman employed as a 
stenographer in a down -town office, a lawyer 

said to me, "The firm has raised Miss 's 

salary twice since she came here. Before engag- 
ing her, we had nearly resolved upon giving up 
the employment of women altogether, our office 

being exceedingly public, but Miss does her 

work, and comes and goes, like a man." " Say 



88 AVITII MY BTEIGHBOES 

rather/' I replied, "like a sensible, well - poised 
woman. A business woman need not be mascu- 
line. The only thing asked of her is that, being 
a woman, she shall be business-like, and give the 
best her nature and training have endowed her 
with in return for the wages she earns." 

I do not know how best to emphasize my belief 
that a woman in a business, as woman in any 
and every other relation, should keep fast hold of 
her womanliness. She must be prompt, faithful, 
energetic, and equal to her work ; she must be 
responsible. But these are not qualities peculiar 
to sex, nor qualities which men possess to a high- 
er degree, nor in greater measure, than women. 
These are the qualities which make good wives, 
mothers, and housekeepers, and they are within 
the reach of, and are the essentials of character 
for, women in every position in life. Environ- 
ment brings tests to character, but it does not 
make character. A girl in a business office, 
doing her work with ability, punctuality, and 
thoroughness, should not imitate her associates 
in mannislmess. She should simply be herself 
intent upon her work, and anxious to do her 
best. 

Let our business girl beware of self-pity. Noth- 
ing is more mischievous, and nothing weaker. 
Why be sorry for yourself that you have to rise 
early, to go forth in all weathers, to sit at your 



OUR GIEL AS A WOMAN OF BUSINESS 89 

desk for hours at a time, to give full tale of 
bricks in your clay's work ? All this is drudgery 
or delight, according to the spirit which you 
bring to it. Regard yourself as valuable not 
only to the immediate firm which employs and 
pays you, but also as important to the whole 
commercial community in the business of which 
you are a factor, though only a humble and ob- 
scure one. Do not cheapen yourself by the feel- 
ing that you are to be pitied. You are, on the 
contrary, to be envied, because you have a defi- 
nite sphere and are able to fill it. If you do not 
pity yourself you will resent pity as an offence 
if it is tendered you, directly or indirectly, by 
your business associates. 

It is a good and safe rule for the business girl 
to accept no attentions which in any way dis- 
tinguish her from other day workers in the office 
or shop. A girl asks her salary to the last dollar 
when she has earned it, and as large a salary as 
she is worth, as her services can command, but 
she does not want flowers on her desk, nor choice 
fruits, nor boxes of bonbons, nor invitations from 
her employers and their friends to luncheons and 
dinners and concerts. These and kindred atten- 
tions are compromising, and, so far as they are 
compromising, arc not innocent. A great deal 
of sophistry exists on such subjects, and the 
pretty girl who occupies a seat at a table in the 



90 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

midday restaurant, partaking of a dainty meal, 
at a cost far beyond that which her own mod- 
est purse can afford, may cheat herself into the 
belief that though she is doing an unconven- 
tional thing there is nothing morally wrong 
about it, and that she may therefore dare to be 
independent. Poor mistaken child ! As a rule 
conventionalities are hedges reared by the gen- 
eral good sense and good feeling of the commu- 
nity, and the outside wilderness beyond their 
bounds is a land of gins and traps and snares, 
hard by which, for all its enchantments, lies the 
valley of the shadow of death. 

The young girl in business should hold herself 
above every concealment. As she respects her- 
self others will accord respect to her in turn. 



XXIII 
THE USE OF THE WORD " LADY " 

" You will find comparatively few occasions 
when it will be proper to use the word ' lady, ' ' 
was said, in reply to an inquiry, by a recognized 
arbiter of etiquette. Those who have observed 
current forms of speech must have noticed the 
tendency of the moment to treat the beautiful 
appellative with disfavor, if not with scorn, hi 
many instances when the word "woman" offends 
our sense of fitness and good taste, "woman" is 
nevertheless preferred, and the person avIio clings 
to the mode to which she has been accustomed 
all her life is informed tbat she is violating the 
code of fashion. The word "gentleman" suf- 
fers equally, and naturally, and one hears, with a 
sort of shiver, on the lips of young girls flippant 
sounding talk of "the fellows" or "the men," 
while only elderly people adhere to the more 
ceremonious and complimentary titles not now 
in vogue. 

As a pronounced conservative I uplift a lance 



92 WITH MY NEIGHBOKS 

for the defence of the temporarily dethroned 
usage. " Lady," according to Hamerton, who 
is good authority, may be defined as "woman in 
a high state of civilization." Regarded in its 
exquisite meaning of loaf-giver it is endowed 
with a veritable queenliness, for who should be- 
stow largess but the matron, the mistress, the 
person at the head of affairs ? Lady implies a 
certain social rank, a certain degree of refinement, 
a manifest measure of intelligence. Woman is a 
generic term, applicable to the entire sex and 
dignified when appropriately and nobly used ; 
but lady is, so to speak, a term within a term, a 
decoration, the definite description of a finished 
and educated style of woman. It is a pity to 
drop this word of ceremony, of politeness, from 
usage till it is familiarly heard only in the speech 
of the conductor who takes your fare on the horse- 
car and in that of the policeman who guides you 
over a crowded street-crossing. 

Of course, we all understand that the caprice 
of the moment is the result of reaction, and that 
it is, in a way, the protest of the better educated 
classes against an incorrect and misleading form 
adopted by the ignorant. 

" Can you find a laundress who will undertake 
my washing?" I asked the pretty daughter of my 
summer hostess in the farm - house where I had 
taken up my abode for the season. 



THE USE OE THE WORD "LADY" 93 

"Oh yes," she answered, glibly; "there is a 
white lady up the road and there is a colored 
lady in the village ; they both take in washing, 
and will be glad to have yours." 

Everybody sees at a glance that woman would 
have been here the appropriate word. "Sales- 
lady," "kitchen lady," lady used in any relation 
where work and wages are combined, is inappro- 
priate. Not that the working-woman may not 
also in the truest sense be a lady, but that in 
her direct relation of worker she has entered 
the lists of those who strive and toil and win 
reward. Woman is the word for the conflict 
and the struggle ; lady the word for the ease- 
ful place and the social affair. Thus, it is not 
fitting to say, " A woman gave a dinner or a 
luncheon to twelve guests." In her capacity 
of dinner-giving she was a lady. So, a gentle- 
man entering a parlor in which his wife and 
several friends were seated would not be justified 
in addressing them brusquely, " Good-evening, 
women !" " Good-evening, ladies !" would carry 
a fine perfume of courtesy which the other form 
entirely lacks. 

"Help those women who labored with me in 
the Lord " conveys a gracious recognition of the 
value of women to the church, but as fully and 
as truly the "elect lady" is a beautiful phrase, 
indicating in picturesque terseness the precise 



94 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

status of the person described. A word to which 
nobody can object, appropriate in its place, is the 
word gentlewoman. Gentleman, gentlewoman, 
cannot offend the most fastidious, and of gentle- 
woman lady is the synonym. 

A girl reproved me the other day when I said, 
" Mrs. C. is a lovely lady !" ", You mean a charm- 
ing woman," declared she of the bright eyes and 
confident lips of twenty. "No, 1 mean what I 
affirm," I maintained, stoutly. " Mrs. C. is love- 
ly, and she is a lady /" And my mentor for the 
instant was silenced. 



XXIV 
HOW SHOULD AN OLD LADY DRESS ? 

I am afraid that in our restless, aspiring life 
of to - day we are losing from society and the 
family one of the most picturesque and beautiful 
features of a former period — viz., the old lady. 
In our hot strife for success we all desire to keep 
our youth — not only our youth of spirit, our 
eager strength, our ability to be in the van of 
whatever is going on — but as well it is our aim 
to look young — at least, as young as we can. The 
frankly brave gentlewoman who acknowledges 
her age, and is not ashamed of the dignity of 
white hairs, nor blind to the charms imparted by 
experience of life and acquaintance with human 
nature, is less frequently met than she should be, 
though when we do meet her how glad and un- 
grudging is our homage. 

The question, how should an elderly lady dress 
so as to render her appearance most attractive, 
is a pertinent one. In a city drawing-room re- 
cently a conspicuous figure was a stately woman 



96 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

of seventy-five years, strong, rugged, and whole- 
some, as might be expected of one country born 
and bred, but dressed, alas, in a way to make one 
shiver. The thin gray hair was tightly drawn 
from the forehead and ears, and skewered with 
a hair-pin into a very compact little knot, like an 
exaggerated coat-button, at the back of the head. 
A narrow strip of linen collar, severe and plain, 
relieved the black gown, which was modelled in 
the tailor-made style in vogue among our young 
women. The result of the whole costume was 
unhappy. One wanted to get hold of that dear 
old lady and dress her, as she ought to have 
been dressed, with a cap of tulle, fleecy white and 
fleecy soft, covering her head, and carrying out 
its refining effect in broad white lappets, falling 
loosely over the shoulders, or in creamy satin 
strings tied beneath the chin. The cap is an 
elderly gentlewoman's best and queenliest head- 
gear, and should be an indispensable part of her 
daily dress. Let it be white, if possible, though 
a black lace cap, with little loops of lavender or 
crimson, once so popular with stately dames in 
their sixties and seventies, is a beautiful addition 
to a woman whose complexion is not of the type 
in which fairness has fallen into a network of 
wrinkles. 

Tbere is a little book entitled "Dr. John 
Brown and His Sister Isabella," in which is given 



HOW SHOULD AN OLD LADY DRESS { 97 

a portrait of Miss Brown, ideally appropriate 
as a fashion-plate for elderly women. Also in 
"Memorials of a Quiet Life" and in the "Life 
of the Baroness Bunsen " there are pictures of 
aged ladies arrayed to perfection. These all 
have the cap. And they have also a dainty lit- 
tle shawl over the shoulders, or a gown with 
soft folds crossing over the breast, and some 
arrangement of soft lace veiling the neck and 
simply fastened upon the bosom or at the 
throat. 

Across the years that have stretched between 
us since she went home to God, I see my mother 
thus attired in a gown innocent of furbelows or 
flounces, short enough to escape the ground, al- 
ways either black or gray in color, and of soft, 
fine, unrustling fabric whether of silk or wool. 
The memory is a sacred one. 

How sweet and soothing such a presence in 
a sick - room ! What comfort in sitting beside 
such a friend at twilight, telling the story of the 
day and receiving strength from sympathetic 
counsel ! Daughters and granddaughters should 
combine in the endeavor to dress the dear old 
mothers and aunties tastefully. Never should 
they ordain the style of dress for these dear 
ones, since nothing is so distasteful to old people 
as the being put under authority in matters per- 
sonal ; but they should influence, persuade, and, 



98 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

if necessary, coax the dear old lady, who is, if she 
but knew it, the most ornamental person in the 
household, to let herself be made outwardly as 
lovely as she is in her inner soul. 



XXV 

A PLAIN TALK WITH COUNTRY GIRLS 

Health and beauty for country girls. Why 
should they not always have them in perfection ? 
The conditions of health ought to obtain in a 
country home, and a country girl should wear 
the rose - bloom of beauty in her cheek, have 
the elastic, springing gait of vigorous youth by 
right, and outshine her city sister in color and 
glow, while her angles should be rounded and 
cushioned, her form erect, her head well poised, 
her carriage that of a princess. 

Health precedes beauty as a foundation a pal- 
ace. And health is dependent on several very 
plain and perfectly manageable conditions, some 
of which are neglected by women young and old, 
so that diphtheria, typhoid-fever, and other dead- 
ly diseases lie in wait for them and their be- 
loved ones. 

To see that no decaying debris of any kind is 
in a cellar or outbuilding, that water (suds or 
slops) is not thrown upon the ground to percolate 



100 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

through it and poison a well, to look after the 
drainage of a place, and to burn up everything 
that must spoil and cannot be put to use, may 
come within the province of a sensible country 
girl. The outbreaks of mysterious dysentery and 
similar epidemics, directly traceable to poisoned 
wells and poisonous heaps of rotting vegetation, 
are disgraceful to village women, who should have 
done away with this source of infection, each 
beside her own door. 

My country girl who would be well and strong 
must forego the doubtful luxury of a feather-bed. 
Heaped high in the middle and mounded off at 
the sides, the feather-bed yet holds its own in 
many a country home, though it is very rarely 
found in the city at this date. Feathers are en- 
ervating. A moderately hard mattress over a 
wire or a slat spring is better for young limbs 
and backs. A curled hair mattress is perfection, 
but many cheaper substitutes are clean and cool, 
while a very comfortable addition to any bed is 
made by laying upon it a thickly wadded com- 
forter made of cotton-wool between two covers 
of calico or muslin. 

Next to a bed comes fresh air in a sleeping- 
room. No one can be well, consequently no one 
can be beautiful, who sleeps in an ill-ventilated 
apartment. You must flood your room with pure 
outdoor air by raising and lowering your window 



A rLAIN TALK WITH COUNTRY GIRLS 101 

both at the bottom and the top. A thin woollen 
blanket in summer will be a precaution against 
taking cold, and in winter, in very chilly and 
rigorous climates, a flannel nightgown will be 
an admirable defence. Plenty of bed -clothing 
well aired and plenty of air in the sleeping-room, 
remember, if you wish absolute immunity from 
colds, catarrhs, and the first premonitory symp- 
toms of that insidious disease, consumption. 

I am constantly surprised to find among girls 
brought up in the country a dislike to the sort of 
food that is good for them. Milk and cream, 
fresh eggs, well - cooked rare meats, very little 
cake, preserves, and pie, and abstinence from eat- 
ing between meals, will usually insure plumpness 
and a good complexion. 

Plumpness in opposition to thinness and 
scrawniness is very desirable, and the use of 
cereals for breakfast, of fruits and of vegetables 
properly prepared, conduces to this end. But a 
fine, clear -grained skin, freedom from pimples 
and roughness, is not to be had except by those 
Avbo bathe often and regularly, keeji the pores of 
the skin open and take plenty of outdoor exercise. 
To bathe once a week in hot water from head to 
foot is not enough, though some deluded people 
think so, taking the Saturday night's bath with 
an agreeable sense of virtue. One should bathe 
every day from head to foot, sponging the body 



102 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

rapidly and thoroughly with either hot or cold 
water, as she prefers ; then rub with a coarse 
towel till the skin is in a glow. Avoid tea and 
coffee ; exercise actively, stay out-of-doors in all 
weathers two or three hours a day, and you will 
find yourself well and strong and ready for any- 
thing the day may bring. 

Country girls need to be reminded of the 
necessity to care for the teeth. A visit twice a 
year to the nearest dentist will save money and 
prevent pain, and very likely the loss of those 
useful servants and warders. To country girls, 
too, there is needed a warning word about tamper- 
ing with drugs. It is so easy to become addicted 
to the use of quinine or iron, or some other tonic, 
that one who is remote from a doctor and who 
has a family medicine-chest in the closet flies to 
that, and whenever she is a little run down in- 
vokes the aid of the remedy which ought to be 
religiously kept for the far - off day of illness. 
By all means let the girl avoid this temptation. 
Very often a day's rest or a little outing, a short 
visit, even a new book to read, something to 
change the current of ideas, will bring one up 
from the temporary prostration and renew the 
loss of tissue. 

It is woman's privilege, and also her duty, to be 
pleasing to the eyes, as well as charming to the 
taste, of her friends. The city girl has heard so 



A PLAIN TALK WITH COUNTRY GIRLS 103 

much of the need of physical culture that this 
little sermon does not address itself so much to 
her as to the fine, true-hearted country girl, who 
should set a high value on the privileges of her 
environment. 



XXVI 
WOMEN IN PUBLIC LIFE 

I am so much more interested in women as 
they go about the homely duties of private life, 
the every-day prosaic cares of the kitchen, the 
nursery, and the drawing-room, than I am in 
women called to assume the responsibilities of 
public office, that I am sensible of a little lack 
of sympathy in thinking of these latter. We 
women who had our training in the days and 
from the hands of a generation who were bound 
by traditions which placed modest self-efface- 
ment high in the calendar of womanly virtues, 
and taught girls that they must be sincere and 
steadfast and thorough, yet withal contented to 
remain in, and fill, a certain Avell - defined 
''sphere," find some difficulty in adjustment to 
the present order of things. The movement 
which has brought women so largely to the front 
challenges our criticism, and, so to speak, con- 
quers our approval, the approval not being sj)on- 
taneous. With many of us, too, there is always 



WOMEN IN PUBLIC LIFE 105 

a reserve in the background ; we are sure that 
we are not yet ready to let woman take upon 
herself any more or greater responsibilities than 
those which the Lord endowed her with when 
He called her to be the mother of all living. 

If by " public life," however, we mean to speak 
of women in great organizations, carrying for- 
ward missionary and temperance and philan- 
thropic movements, or of women on school- 
boards, or in prison reform, or in associations of 
any kind which have in view the blessing and 
benefiting of the world, the way is somewhat 
cleared. 

Women do not step out of their sphere in un- 
dertaking such work. They simply make the 
sphere a little larger around. The woman who 
swept her own dooryard now sweeps an area in 
front of her house, and helps a brigade of her 
neighbors to do the same. By-and-by the town 
will be cleaner. 

To the necessities and requirements of public 
life women must bring precisely the qualities 
which distinguish them in the life that is private 
and, in a manner, obscure. The motherly wom- 
an, who has brought up her family well and care- 
fully, will be motherly to the greater family of 
boys and girls in the public schools when she is 
added to a committee of supervisors on a board 
of education. The sisterly woman, whose tact 



106 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and sympathy made home sweet and peaceful, 
will extend helping hands to her sisters in work- 
shops and factories, in crowded tenements, and 
in poverty, misery, and sin. 

Precisely the qualities which make a woman a 
notable housekeeper, a good economist, a suc- 
cessful factor in society, a useful church mem- 
ber, will add to and increase her usefulness when 
she answers a summons which bids her enter a 
more conspicuous field. In proportion as she 
continues gentle, self-sacrificing, pure and true, 
as she cultivates the finer graces and the social 
gifts which have made her the queen in woman's 
kingdom, she will dignify and ennoble her new 
role. She must be the Christian woman, com- 
bining Mary's devotedness with Martha's prac- 
tical energy, if she would enter public life to 
any purpose. Forgetting herself in the good 
at which she aims, the simple, straightforward 
woman will do all she can, and then gladly say 
good-bye to the public and kneel down to fan 
the fire on the home hearth. 

Nor must we forget that there are many com- 
munities in which, for one cause or another, the 
educated women outnumber the educated men. 
I can think of whole townships from which most 
of the young men have departed, leaving only 
gray - headed seniors to till the ground, keep 
the few shops, attend to the needful business, 



WOMEN" IN PUBLIC LIFE 107 

and fill the several official positions. Work in 
great cities, or in the mining regions, or the 
broad farmlands of the West has allured the 
boys. But the girls remain. They are of all 
ages, from the lovely young thing with the sea- 
shell pink in her cheeks, to the faded but wide- 
awake and intelligent spinster, with opinions on 
many subjects and wide reading to back them. 
They have been at school and at college, and 
have received an intellectual training which is a 
manifest endowment for them in the public life 
to which circumstances seem to call them. Who 
shall say that a woman, thoroughly equipped for 
a vocation, has a right to turn from it simply be- 
cause of her sex ? John being unavoidably ab- 
sent, is not the door open to Jane, who is here 
to answer to her name ? 



XXVII 

OUR DEAR ONES GONE 

If our dear ones gone could speak to us from 
the silence into which they have passed, I think 
they would sometimes reproach us for our avoid- 
ance of their names, for our dropping them out 
of the household speech, for our tacit accepting 
of them as dead and, therefore, gone. This com- 
mon and often cowardly way of treating those 
who have left this world sometimes fills us who 
are yet here with a sort of wistful, prophetic 
sadness. "Shall the day dawn," we whisper to 
ourselves, "when to all the bright stir and happy 
hustle of this dear home, in which we are now so 
inrportant, we shall be as less than nothing and 
vanity, as alien and apart as though nothing here 
had ever been ours to handle, ours to direct, ours 
to love and care for ?" The thought falls like a 
chill and a shade upon the brightest summer 
day, for there is an instinctive jealousy for our 
own rights, a feeling, God-implanted, that we do 



OUR DEAR ONES GONE 109 

not wish to be forgotten when we are no more 
upon the earth. 

In a multitude of cases it is an instinct of self- 
protection which prompts to this silence where 
the beloved dead are concerned. We miss them 
so acutely, the wound is so fresh, the ache is so 
poignant, that we cannot bear to speak of them ; 
we shudder at doing so to the indifferent, who 
may be bored, or who may not understand, and 
we fear equally by speech or allusion to awaken 
a slumbering pain in the heart of some other as 
loving and as loyally regretful as we know that 
we ourselves are. 

So it comes to pass gradually, or at once, that 
the little child who sleeps in the narrow bed 
under the daisies is never mentioned in the 
home. Her brothers and sisters seldom think 
of her, nor is heaven nearer or more real to 
them because she is there. The dear mother 
ceases to be an influence with her sons and 
daughters, because nobody repeats her words, 
and her ways arc no longer the law of the house. 
The young brother, whose sun went down before 
it had climbed past the morning, has a name 
starred on the college roll and inscribed on a 
marble tablet, but he is not "Joe" or "Harry" 
to anybody in the home that was so proud of 
him. Neighbors notice how rapidly his parents 
have aged since he died, but that is all. Per- 



110 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

haps a young heart somewhere grieves for him 
in reverent silence, too, but the lips of love are 
sealed ; she cannot speak. 

Would it not be far better to do as here and 
there a woman does, or a family does, and keep 
naturally and as a matter of course the house- 
hold names in use after the darlings who bore 
them have gone ? I know one or two homes 
where it is the custom to do this, where "Dave" 
and "Mattie" and "John" are often quoted 
as of old, and are as familiar in the current 
speech of the household as if they had only gone 
to Egypt or to Switzerland instead of to heaven, 
which may be so much nearer, which, indeed, 
being our Father's house and the abiding-place 
of thousands of our kindred, is not far from 
every one of us. 

To keep our dear ones gone in tender recollec- 
tion there seems nothing more appropriate than 
the carrying on of whatever work they loved. If 
they took an interest in philanthropy or charity, 
in missions, in a hospital or a school, we may 
plan and give and labor personally and steadi- 
ly for the same causes just as they would have 
done had they been spared, and every kind word 
spoken, every dollar contributed, every loving 
act of service on our part will be their best and 
most enduring; memorial. 



XXVIII 

AN ATTRACTIVE MANNER 

Two young men were established in a similar 
business, side by side, on a city street. Both 
were known to be perfectly trustworthy, the 
prospects of each at the start were about equal, 
but one succeeded very much better than the 
other, enlarging his store after a while and strik- 
ing out into new lines, while the first seemed 
barely able to maintain his original position. 

"How do you account for the difference ?" was 
asked, and a customer summed it up by saying : 
"It's entirely a question of manner. If you go 
to Box to be measured for a suit of clothes he 
looks at you with as much indifference as if you 
were a stick of wood ; he sbows you goods with 
an air of ennui and never assists you by a word 
of advice. It is apparently a bore to him to wait 
on you at all, and sometimes he is so glum that 
the atmosphere all around is positively frigid. 
If, on the other hand, you go to Cox, he is just 
as friendly as he can be. He comes forward cor- 



112 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

dially to meet you, says something pleasant, and 
takes an interest in you personally. Cox cares 
about your tastes, and he tells you what you ought 
to buy and how it ought to be made. Fellows 
like Cox and hate Box. It's a question of man- 
ner." 

The question of manner has more to do with 
success than many people think, and it also has 
much to do with happiness. It writes itself, too, 
on the countenance, for one whose manner is 
frosty will have a forbidding set of the mouth, an 
icy expression, will repel instead of attracting. 
Moods affect the manner, and those who let their 
moods control them instead of assuming control 
of their moods are decidedly uncomfortable peo- 
ple to have relations with, either in business or 
in society. 

" My Aunt Lydia would take any trouble, go 
to any expense, to serve one of us," remarked a 
girl of an elderly relative, " but she is so disa- 
greeably satirical and snubs one so unkindly that 
we avoid going to her house, and we fairly throng 
Aunt Carrie's because she is so pleasant. But 
yet Aunt Carrie does not put herself out for any 
one and Aunt Lydia is very unselfish." 

There are good men and women who trample 
upon conventionalities, despising them as trivi- 
alities and clinging to rude or uncouth forms no 
longer in vogue simply from a sentiment of in- 



AN" ATTRACTIVE MANNER 113 

dependence. Do these dear, mistaken beings 
ever remember that we should not suffer our 
good to be evil spoken of, and would it not be 
nobler for them, even in small matters, to culti- 
vate attractiveness of manner ? 

Nothing more effectually distinguishes the gen- 
tlewoman than a winning manner towards chil- 
dren and servants. In a large up-town shop in 
New York I was waited upon lately by a sweet- 
faced young girl whose weary pose and tired 
look went to my heart. She had occasion to 
summon a little " cash " to her side, and she said, 
pleasantly, " Susie, go to such a one, dear, and 
bring me some more of these garments." The 
child beamed, for not every saleswoman called 
her " dear " ! And I knew the young woman, 
who was so patiently trying to find just what I 
wanted, to be that most beautiful thing on earth, 
a lady. Her manner stamped her thus. 



XXIX 

OTHER-WORLDLIXESS 

I suppose no question presents itself more 
constantly to the mind of a conscientious wom- 
an than one which may be formulated after this 
manner: "How far may I venture into world- 
ly amusements and recreations and yet retain 
my influence on the side of religion ? Is it 
right for me to do this or that thing which my 
husband and sons plead for me to do, to go here 
or there with my young daughters ? Where shall 
I draw the line between fidelity to the highest 
duty and weak compliance with the persuasions 
of my friends ?" 

It would help those of us who are sometimes 
hard beset on such points as this to remember 
that there is never for the Christian any real 
conflict between duty and inclination. Eight is 
eternally right, and wrong is everlastingly wrong. 
But we, poor, finite creatures — easily biased, 
easily prejudiced, freighted by traditions of the 
past, swayed more than we imagine by the op:n- 



OTHER-WORLDLINESS 113 

ions of those around us — may well be perplexed 
and troubled when we endeavor to govern our 
conduct from the outside by a set of arbitrary 
rules. The letter killeth. It is the spirit that 
giveth life. 

Our Lord said in that marvellous prayer of His 
for His disciples, "I pray not that Thou shouldst 
take them out of the world, but that Thou 
shouldst keep them from evil." The world is our 
present home, our sphere of action, our battle- 
ground, our school-room, our vineyard given us 
to till. To one life appeals with certain inter- 
ests and brings certain responsibilities. To an- 
other life also comes, full - handed and stern- 
browed, but with entirely different tasks and ob- 
ligations. Each to his own Master standeth or 
falleth. No individual has a right to dictate 
within definite and particular limits what an- 
other may or may not do. 

The main and most important element in 
Christian conduct is the motive which animates 
it. No gauge, except that which tips Ithuriel's 
spear, can estimate the unconscious impressive- 
ness of a noble Christian life. Not long ago, on 
a brilliant social occasion, I saw in the midst of 
a notable group a lovely woman, a woman whoso 
days are spent in rare self-sacrifice, whose smile 
is always ready, on whose lips is always the law 
of kindness. As soon as she entered the room 



11G WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

the atmosphere had seemed to soften and bright- 
en, and when somebody said to her neighbor, 
'"There is dear Miss H.," I was not surprised to 
hear the reply, "I am so glad. She keeps us all 
at high-water mark." 

The late Eev. Dr. "William M. Taylor, in a lit- 
tle book entitled " The Christian in Society," said 
pithily, " In settling such questions we should 
have reference not to the fashion of our circle 
or the gratification of our own curiosity, but 
to the glory of God." A shrewd old Scotch cap- 
italist gave this advice to a young man enter- 
ing business: "Ay give yourself the benefit of 
the doubt." 

If conscience troubles us, if our spiritual grade 
is lowered, by a certain course, ought we not to 
make it a matter of earnest prayer ? Ought not 
other-worldliness to be a distinctive sign in or of 
the Christian in this world ? I heard a college 
senior say not long ago, in reference to a girl 
friend, "A man is better for knowing her. She 
never lowers her standard," 



XXX 

FULLY EIPE 

Summer days and winter days, and all days 
alike, God is gathering many of the dear old peo- 
ple to Himself. It is beautiful to think of the 
surprise and pleasure which await some of the 
venerable ones who have lingered with us in great 
feebleness, and sometimes in great pain, when 
once their feet shall have crossed the cold death 
waves and touched the land beyond. 

Little by little their hold on life's tasks has 
been loosening, day by day they ha e relinquished 
duties which they once thought could not be del- 
egated, almost imperceptibly they have ceased to 
be a part of the active life of church or town. 
None the less in the household the dear old peo- 
ple have been more and more important and in- 
fluential, their very presence a benediction, and 
when they are called away their vacant places 
seem very desolate, and those who are left scarce- 
ly know how to go on with their lives. 

I am tempted to quote from a hitter on my 



118 WITH MT NEIGHBORS 

desk, received from the daughter of a sweet and 
gracious woman whose death was a bereavement 
to a host of friends. Up to seventy-seven, though 
obliged to save her strength and "walk softly," 
this dear matron had retained her interest in life, 
in works of charity, in all that bad to do with 
goodness and love in the world. Suddenly the 
message came that she was needed "up higher," 
and the old home to which she had gone a bride 
in the radiant beauty of eighteen summers, the 
home in which her whole life thenceforward had 
been spent, grew very sad and dark. It was as 
if a lamp had gone out. But the dear daughter 
writes : " Mother always made it her rule, no 
matter how heavy her sorrow, to answer every 
word of sympathy she received, and we are do- 
ing the same." Still the mother's unfailing 
courtesy and sweet appreciation of others re- 
main the way of the family — a lovely and at- 
tractive way. 

It has been borne in upon me that I ought to 
say my plain word of remonstrance to some who 
are perhaps a little thoughtless about the com- 
fort and dignity of aged relatives. Nothing in 
life is more pathetic than the sight of an old man 
or an old woman who is simply tolerated in the 
home of his or her kindred. 

" I am very tired and lonesome," wrote an aged 
father not I0112; as;o to a friend. "It is hard to 



FULLY RIPE 119 

be eighty-four years of age and to have to board 
with strangers, because none of the children you 
brought up have room for you under their own 
roofs. It is hard to live so long that you are in 
the way." 

Had not several similar cases come directly un- 
der my observation, I would think it exception- 
al and very strange and inexplicable — this in- 
difference on the part of younger relatives to the 
feelings and well-being of the old. But we are 
so in the habit in this period and in this coun- 
try of considering the young people, their wish- 
es, pleasures, and conveniences, first, that sons 
and daughters excuse themselves — at least, occa- 
sionally — for uprooting parents from the homes 
where they have been supreme, or for letting 
them read between the lines that they are, to 
some degree, an encumbrance. How one who is 
not tenderly kind and thoughtful in her conduct 
towards the old can ever forgive herself for the 
lack is a puzzle to those who realize that the stay 
of the old among us is at best the lingering of 
the withered leaf upon the tree. 

So it comes to pass that a distinguishing grace 
of youth, reverence, is not always seen among us, 
that our children grow up self-centred and lack- 
ing in that crowning beauty of manner — regard 
for those who are weaker than they, and who 
must take their time in whatever they attempt. 



120 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

The greatest boon, could a young girl only see it, 
would be to grow up in the house with a grand- 
mother, and that a grandmother who should 
neither be ignored nor neglected. 

True, old people are sometimes difficult. So, 
for that matter, are young people at times. To 
live in unbroken harmony even with your very 
dearest requires constant watchfulness, much 
prayer, and not a little self-denial. And a bless- 
ing will surely come to those who rise up before 
the hoary head, and smooth with careful hand 
the path for the feet that begin to falter. 

Yes, they are going home, our beloved old 
friends, surely going home. Shall we know 
them when we meet again ? They will not be 
bowed and broken ; they will not be sick and 
ailing ; they will not be tired nor sad. But by 
their sweetness, their maturity, their beauty, their 
warm welcome, and kind hand-clasp we will rec- 
ognize our aged ones, grown young in the Fa- 
ther's house. Fully ripe, God is gathering them 
to Himself. 



XXXI 

THE REFLEX INFLUENCE OF FOREIGN MISSIONS 

Among the best influences which can enter 
a home in Christian America may be counted 
an interest in the conversion of the world. No 
smaller sentiment is so potential as this, which 
strikes deep roots into heart and conscience. 
Nothing else so widens the domestic horizon. 
Nothing else gives so strong an impulse to no- 
ble liberality, so sure an uplift to family prayer. 
The reflex influence of foreign missions is so 
distinctly perceptible for good in the lives and 
characters of those who endeavor to forward them 
that, on selfish grounds alone, the church would 
do wisely in stimulating and encouraging its 
members to more intelligent activity here. 

An intelligent interest in any subject presup- 
poses a degree of knowledge upon it which can 
be acquired only by attention and study. The 
woman thoroughly awake to the importance of 
foreign missions is not languidly indifferent, 
caring nothing about ways and means, heedless 



122 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

how the Lord's work is carried on, so that she, 
at least, be not called upon to aid it. She is not 
satisfied with dropping a silver coin or two into 
the collection-box when the theme has been pre- 
sented from the pulpit, going contentedly next 
day to her shopping or her housekeeping, and 
forgetting the heathen for another year. 

On the contrary, an interest and a share in 
the foreign missionary's work bring to pass in 
the home and the family therein the desire to 
read missionary literature. They turn eagerly 
and regularly to the missionary columns in their 
religious paper. Items, bits of news, statistics 
are noted and discussed. Lives of missionaries, 
of all biographies most fascinating and most re- 
plete with romance, drift into the home and 
are read aloud in the evening. The missionary 
names, those starred and heroic names on the 
calendar of our modern saints, are familiar to 
the children. The home sends out its loving 
thoughts, sometimes its monthly letters and its 
personal gifts and tokens, far beyond its visible 
and tangible bounds, outside the remotest cir- 
cle of its kindred and the farthest group of its 
friends, to reach the bungalow in Madras, the 
mission quarters in Yokohama, the hospital in 
Bombay. There and elsewhere brave men and 
women work and pray. 

At home we, too, must work and pray with 



REFLEX INFLUENCE OF FOREIGN MISSIONS 123 

these distant toilers, and so doing we grow nearer 
them and nearer their Lord and ours. 

Gradually, as the consecration deepens, this 
reflex influence quickens the nature and makes 
it willing for sacrifice. Said a mother to me not 
long ago : "I can give everything I have to God 
except my hoy. I am in terror lest he shall come 
to me some day and say, ''Mother, I have resolved 
to go myself as a missionary.' I simply cannot 
part with my only son." 

And yet I have faith to feel that when this gift 
is asked of this Christian woman she will be able 
to yield, without reservation, this, her most pre- 
cious treasure, if it must be offered "In His 
name," for all the work of missions, here and 
abroad, is educational and in the line of progress 
— progress outward, upward, heavenward. 



XXXII 
THE ACCEPTANCE OF DISAPPOINTMENT 

Disappointment is not usually included 
among the great calamities of this life, and we 
are from childhood on urged to bear it with 
equanimity. Looking back in these older years, 
and from the higher standpoint, we often pity 
the poor little hearts that used to belong to us, 
remembering how they ached and grieved over 
the manifold disappointments that were their 
portion. 

How it may be with others I do not know, but 
I sometimes bave a puzzled feeling about the 
small person in short frocks and a wide-brimmed 
hat who used to be myself, and to take her dis- 
appointments hard, as if tbey were bitter pills. 
Poor child, how little she dreamed of the good 
that many of these afflictive experiences held in 
store for her ! And how difficult it would have 
been for her to realize that she would ever learn 
to accept disappointment patiently and thank- 
fully as God's appointment, and tberefore the 



THE ACCEPTANCE OF DISAPPOINTMENT 125 

best possible gift that a day could bring in its 
wake. 

If you ever climbed a steep hill on a burning 
summer's day you vividly recollect the dust, the 
heat, the weariness. But you came to an upland, 
shaded and sweet, and there under a green tree 
you sat down to rest. Over your head a bird 
sang, dropping at intervals snatches of silvery 
music and lifting your heart heavenward the 
wbile. There, in fulness of content, you saw 
below you people toiling and climbing, as you 
had climbed and toiled, and you were sorry for 
them, yet all the time you knew that if they 
could but arrive at your point of view they would 
make very light of the roughness of the road. 

So it is with many of our experiences after 
they are passed. Chiefly is it so, in a majority 
of instances, with those disappointments which 
have to do with our earthly business. We lose, 
at a certain turning of the way, an opportunity 
of aiding ourselves materially. If we had done 
this or the other thing instead of the thing we 
did do we would have added to our real estate 
or increased our bank account, instead of having 
impoverished our families and limited our for- 
tunes. Many a man broods over some fancied 
error of judgment until he creates a sense of dis- 
appointment where none should have existed. 
The truth is that, having done our best in any 



126 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

position, we should acquiesce heartily in God's 
arbitrament for us as better than ours. 

The father sees and judges for the child with 
loving forethought and appreciation of condi- 
tions unknown to the latter. Are Ave not God's 
dear children, and shall we not trust our Heav- 
enly Father ? 

A disappointment may involve only a personal 
pleasure. We anticipated a guest and made 
ready for her, arranging for walks and drives, 
planning how to do her honor, beautifying her 
room, thinking of dainty dishes which should 
tempt her appetite. At the last moment, with 
the larder full and the bed spread and the 
flowers plucked to make the house look festive, 
comes a telegram, "Detained by unlooked-for 
circumstances." How flat the taste of creams 
and sauces ! how dull the evening that was to 
have been so bright ! The disappointment is 
poignant. A pinprick will wound if it pene- 
trate deeply enough. 

Or you are yourself about to undertake a 
journey. Your trunk is packed, your ticket is 
taken, your very farewells are spoken, you have 
told everybody of your intention, and then some- 
thing occurs to prevent, arid you must remain at 
home. Take the pretty best gown out of its 
folds and hang it on the nail in the darkest cor- 
ner of the closet. Resume the commonplace 



THE ACCEPTANCE OF DISAPPOINTMENT 127 

tasks that were to have been intermitted in the 
holiday time. Explain to sympathizing friends 
that your purpose has changed. The tiling is 
trivial as compared with a great disaster or a 
heartbreaking bereavement, but, nevertheless, it 
occasions acute distress for the moment, and it 
is a proof of rare strength of character when it is 
accepted without murmuring and put behind one 
cheerfully. 

The day almost invariably comes when, like 
the mountain climber, the disappointed person 
is forced to the conclusion that the lesson was 
not in vain. Philosophy does not convince us 
of this at the moment, but, looking back, we are 
consoled in the event. 



XXXIII 
A FALSE STANDARD OF SUCCESS 

Is it not time that in onr American life we 
adopt a higher standard in regard to what con- 
stitutes real success ? It is not too much to say 
that five boys out of six are taught by precept 
and example to consider the acquisition of money 
as the noblest aim in life ; that they are trained 
to look on the man who begins in poverty and 
ends with a fortune as the man above all others 
to be commended, honored, and envied. At the 
bottom of the many shipwrecks of honesty and 
integrity which our daily papers report, do we 
not discover the desire to accumulate money, not 
by the old, safe ways of thrift and industry, but 
by some magic of speculation, some wonderful 
stroke of "luck"? Money is the idol erected in 
our midst as an object of worship — a god sordid, 
fierce, cruel, and rapacious as any demon to whom 
the heathen bend the knee. 

Our girls do not escape the fatal contagion, 
and into their bright young lives there enters 



A FALSE STANDARD OF SUCCESS 129 

the wish for beauty and luxury which money can 
procure. They accept or refuse the lover, not on 
the ground of his personal worth, but because of 
his business prospects, or his connection with 
wealthy kinsmen ; and so love is profaned in the 
temple of the home, and self-indulgence, fashion- 
able ambition, and the sin of covetousness obtain 
a foothold in womanly hearts. 

To be sure, no man who sets out in life with 
only brains, energy, and will as an outfit, and who 
wrenches financial success from the reluctant 
grasp of competition, is a weakling. Such a man, 
if honest and honorable, deserves praise, because 
he has had a purpose in life and held on to it 
with tenacity ; because he has overcome his own 
temptation to indolence, and made his one talent 
ten in the world's market. Such a man, con- 
secrating his well-earned gains, giving to charity, 
to reforms, or for religious uses, is noble, and de- 
serves recognition for what he is and does. But 
our mistake is in our lack of discrimination, and 
our vulgar and stupid way of alluding to rich 
men, frequently irrespective of character, as if 
they should be regarded with favor, simply be- 
cause of their wealth ; in our exaltation of mate- 
rial over intellectual eminence ; in our confusion 
of mind on the subject, which leads us to set low 
ideals before our young people, instead of show- 
ing them that we agree with that everlasting 

9 



130 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

word of the Scripture: "The life is more than 
the food, and the body than the raiment. A 
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the 
things he possesseth." 

We cannot begin too early in their lives to 
teach children the imperative demands of a per- 
fect honesty. First, let them see that in the eyes 
of their parents many things are more to be de- 
sired than money ; that education, books, intel- 
ligence, scientific knowledge, the friendship of 
good people, are all of greater importance than 
the counting up of stock in bank, or the adding 
of acres to the farm or building lots to the prop- 
erty in town. When economies must be prac- 
tised, let them be to the end that more money 
may be given away, not that more may be saved. 
The father and mother who sit down with a lad, 
invite him to their confidence, and ask him to 
share their planning that the donation to some 
great beneficence may this year be doubled or 
trebled, have taken a forward step in making of 
their son a large-hearted, liberal Christian man 
in days to come. If there is frugality, let it be 
of the brave kind that stints and denies itself to 
send the boys and girls to college ; or, better 
still, that scrimps and contrives, in order that an 
orphan child in the circle of kindred, or in the 
list of acquaintances, may have advantages equal 
to those of one's own children. 



A FALSE STANDARD OF SUCCESS 131 

Next, let mothers frown sternly down all tem- 
porary borrowing from a fund which does not 
belong to the children, as, for instance, money 
committed to a little treasurer for safe keeping. 
In no circumstances should a penny of such 
money be diverted for one - half hour from its 
place, and its original purpose, to serve the con- 
venience of the one who has it in trust. The 
principle of honesty is the same, whether the sum 
in hand be fifty cents or fifty thousand dollars. 
Debts should not be contracted. If contracted, 
let the child understand that there can be neither 
ease nor rest for conscience or heart until they 
are paid. A nice and delicate sense of honor 
should be fostered in the home, and no dally- 
ing with temptation should be allowed when the 
question is one of rights to possessions. That 
an article, or a sum of money, belongs to a brother 
or sister gives another in the family no right to 
claim it, and people should strictly respect the 
rights of one another, especially to personal prop- 
erty, in the home. 

In our talk around the fireside, when we are 
off guard, and in the thoughts which lie back of, 
and inspire, our talk, let us be careful to give 
money, and the success which is built on money, 
the true place. Money is means to an end. If 
it can serve patriotism, Christian progress, erect 
hospitals, build better homes for the poor, feed 



132 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and clothe the hungry and naked, send Bihles 
and Day springs and Morning Stars across the 
sea to those who sit in darkness, then blessed 
be money. But it is only a servant, and should 
wear the servant's livery. The rich man in bond- 
age to his wealth may be a pauper, and many a 
poor man is in God's sight, and his own feeling, 
richer than a millionaire, and a very king in true 
greatness. It rests with the home to set up the 
best standards in this matter. 



XXXIV 

SUNDAY CONVERSATION 

To say that in many cases the serious impres- 
sions derived from a sermon are dissipated in the 
church aisle, or the church vestibule, or on the 
way from the church to the home, is to make an 
apparently sweeping assertion, and yet it is not 
an exaggerated statement of a familiar fact. For 
in the transit from the pew door to the church 
door there is time for trivial gossip, for an airy 
criticism on the music, on a friend's new gown 
or bonnet, on a neighbor's wrap, or a child's 
change from kilts to trousers — for much that is 
insignificant. Mrs. E. was personally concerned 
with the truth to which she listened, but Miss D. 
drove away her sober thought by a laughing rem- 
iniscence of yesterday's gayety, or an impulsive 
bit of planning for to-morrow's frolic. Xo won- 
der that the minister often reaches Sunday night 
weary and discouraged, so much of his endeavor 
being nullified, not by the sinners, but by the 
saints, of his congregation. 



134 WITH MY NEIGHBOKS 

In times of revival it is evident that there is 
reformation here. People go and come to God's 
house, and from it again, and their faces are 
earnest, their voices hushed, their spirits are 
absorbed in devotion, even while they walk the 
street. An arrest is for the moment laid on the 
impulse to worldliness which so interferes with 
heavenward progress and hallowed thoughts. As 
flowers which have withered in a drought spring 
up anew after the blessing of the rain, so in days 
of the right hand of the Most High the hearts 
that love the Master are refreshed and invigo- 
rated, and are so brought into touch with Jesus 
that trifling becomes impossible in hours so sweet 
and sacred. 

Of Sunday conversation at home — not in those 
exalted moods when it is easy to live on a high 
plane, and when the soul is conscious of breath- 
ing in a divine atmosphere — but in the common 
experiences of our lives, what shall Ave say ? 
First, that it should be regulated by principle, 
and not left to the accidents of emotion. A 
thoughtful English writer, commenting on the 
text, " By thy words thou shalt be justified, and 
by thy words condemned," remarks that our 
thoughts may be beyond our control, but our 
spoken words are within our power. To a large 
extent this is true. We may speak, or refrain 
from speaking, and we may choose our own 



SUNDAY CONVERSATION' 135 

themes. To limit our range of talk in the house- 
hold to strictly religious topics would hardly be 
possible or desirable, especially since the attempt 
would result in perfunctory conversation which 
would have little real vitality; but the spirit of 
Sunday's talk should be religious, and not secu- 
lar. Week-day subjects and engagements may be 
put aside with the week-day work, and the pat- 
terns and prices of new gowns, the shortcom- 
ings of servants, the comparative merits of differ- 
ent remedies, the enchanting strains of the last 
concert, the beauties of the art gallery, or the 
interest of the novel which at present enjoys the 
greatest popularity, are all secular, and let down 
our minds and our talk from the higher to the 
lower levels. It is not absolutely essential to 
home happiness on Sunday that there should be 
a great flow of talk ; even if we are somewhat 
quiet and a little subdued in manner and speech, 
that might be for our soul's profit. 

But I know Christian households to which the 
pearl of days, brings no unwelcome restraint, in 
which, indeed, the table and the library and the 
drawing-room are brighter, and wear the air of 
being ready for a dear and honored guest, even 
the King of Kings. There is soberness, but no 
sadness ; there are loving looks and gentle tones ; 
there is a tender hush before church time, which 
sends old and young to the sanctuary with hearts 



136 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

prepared for devotion and the reception of in- 
struction ; there is an alert, eager interest in the 
Sunday-school and the lesson of the day which 
furnishes an admirable topic for conversation; 
there are hours when the mother or the older 
sister sits at the piano, and the children gather 
about her and sing hymns ; and often there are 
outspoken joy and sincere congratulations over 
the conversion of some wandering soul, over the 
admission to the church of some one who will 
henceforth follow wherever the great Captain 
leads. 

The persons responsible for the tone of Sunday 
conversation at home are, naturally, the parents. 
They, rather than the young people, may gently 
establish a habit and maintain a standard. Fa- 
ther and mother may not be able to think be- 
forehand of topics fit for the day, but they may 
avail themselves of suggestions from the pulj}it 
or the religious paper. It is a good old-fashioned 
plan to discuss the sermon after the return from 
church, and at the midday meal. If it is the 
family custom to do this, the listening will be 
the more attentive, and there will be neither con- 
fusion nor consternation among the boys and 
girls if they are asked to repeat the text. 



XXXV 

HOME AFTER COLLEGE LIFE 

College life, full to the brim of stimulating 
and interesting experiences, full of agreeable com- 
panionship, brightened by what is, I think, the 
very pleasantest thing in life — the sense of definite 
accomplishment and the realization of growth and 
development along lines of one's own choosing — 
comes to an end at last. For the young man the 
four years' term has all the way been a bridge, or a 
succession of stepping-stones, leading to business 
or to a profession, and while his spirit is stirred 
at leaving his alma mater, and separating from 
his classmates, still, his feeling at the return to 
his home is necessarily very different from that 
which agitates his sister. 

In many instances the girl, too, has her career 
beckoning her. She means to be a professor, a 
journalist, a doctor, or an artist, to take up, af- 
ter the requisite supplementary college study or 
other antecedent training, whatever she has cho- 
sen as her life - work. She hopes for a career. 



138 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

Yet after all, and happily for society, which 
needs domestic women and home - making wom- 
en far more than it needs women, however well 
equipped and brilliant, in the several professions, 
the large majority of college girls go home after 
their graduation, and there they remain for a 
while its joy and pride, leaving it for the queenly 
dignity of wifehood and a home of their very own. 
Undeniably, home life in contrast to college 
life is sometimes flat and insipid. At once it is 
not easy to drop the old routine; and by com- 
parison the new, which used to be the old, ap- 
pears trivial and inconsequent. Sometimes a 
girl has to make acquaintance with her mother 
after years of other occupations and interests. 
The mother has not mentally kept pace with the 
daughter, as how could she be expected to do, 
considering the nature of her occupations and 
the lack of change and recreation in her prosaic 
daily life ? Most mothers have spent their lives, 
as I heard one say not long ago, "in working 
hard to make other people's work light." The 
girl means to be loyal, and she crushes back the 
longing for that wide-awake, sprightly, and al- 
most miraculously young woman, her favorite 
professor, whose birthdays must have counted 
as many as her mother's. She resists the temp- 
tation to be patronizing ; she encounters resist- 
ance if she tries to change the home ways and 



HOME AFTER COLLEGE LIFE 139 

to relieve her mother of tasks which have be- 
come to the older woman as sacredly her own as 
her heart - beat, and as inflexibly ordered as the 
rising of the sun. 

The college girl at this period is apt to wonder 
whether she might not better have stayed at home 
in the first place, and, if she be an ordinary jjer- 
son, she indulges in a little foolish self-pity. If, 
on the contrary, she be extraordinary, she brave- 
ly reminds herself that the end of all discipline 
is to make good soldiers, and that a soldier's duty 
is to serve wherever the commander sends him. 
Sealed orders are as imperative as any other or- 
ders, and there never fails to dawn a day when 
one breaks the seal. 

This girl simply sets herself to be that dearest, 
sweetest thing on earth — a loving sunbeam of a 
daughter at home. She fits into the chinks. She 
enables her hard-working father to get a glimpse 
of the poetry of life. His youth returns as he 
watches her bright face ; her swift intellectual 
processes charm and amaze him ; he grows gal- 
lant and courtly as he escorts this fair young 
creature about, a girl who has enough of him- 
self in her to be keenly in sympathy with him ; 
the father becomes lover - like, and the daughter 
brings himself and her mother into closer union. 
What she is now she could not have been lack- 
ing the college training and discipline. 



XXXVI 

THE NEW WOMAN 

When a phrase previously unknown suddenly 
appears in print, and is often heard in conversa- 
tion, it becomes in order to ask what it means. 
How shall we precisely define so nebulous a being 
as the new woman? For nebulous she certainly 
is, melting away into thin vapor when one de- 
mands of her who and what she is, whence she 
hails, and where she is going. Among the thou- 
sands and tens of thousands who jostle us as we 
walk on the crowded highway, which is the new 
woman, and what business has she in the path, 
and whither is she leading those who follow in 
her wake ? 

The new woman is popularly supposed to be a 
woman of liberal education and advanced ideas, 
a woman prepared to maintain her rights and 
claim her privileges, and make and keep a fair 
standing-ground for herself in whatever field she 
chooses to exploit her convictions or exert her 
abilities. She is supposed to look with a certain 



THE NEW WOMAN 141 

disfavor on domesticity, to go about with a chip 
on her shoulder among old-fashioned people who 
fancy that a woman's natural sphere is in the 
narrow world of home. The new woman, we 
learn incidentally, cares little for marriage, re- 
garding it as an episode in life, but proudly 
holding herself above the old stupid notion that 
love and matrimony are cardinal points in the 
destiny of her sex. She is said to be opposed to 
sacrificing herself on the altar of childhood, and 
to look with pitiful scorn on the mother of a half- 
dozen boys and girls. Whatever a man may do, 
this product of fin de sibcle fancy is said to in- 
sist upon doing, setting her feet firmly down on 
the antiquated myths which once obtained — the 
myth of the right of the weaker to protection 
by the stronger, of the adoration of the mother 
as the most blessed of all women on the earth, 
of the queenly dignity of her who rules the home 
and keeps alight the fire on the hearth. 

Our question is where to find this personage 
so glibly described and discussed, but so elusive 
when she is sought ? She is absent from our 
drawing-rooms, where to-day, as in former years, 
gracious matrons and fascinating' maidens im- 
part to society the ease, the flavor, the sweetness 
which make the intercourse of well-bred people 
with one another equally reposeful and stimu- 
lating. 



142 WITH MY NEIGHBOKS 

She is not to be discovered in the innumerable 
professions and trades which women have made 
their own, from the pulpit to the printing-office. 
The woman doctor, albeit an excellent physician, 
is as womanly as our mother Eve, and one seeks 
in vain for novelty in the woman professor, artist, 
minister, clerk, type- writer, journalist, or woman 
engaged in any vocation known to the utility of 
the hour. Purely womanly under the student's 
cap or gown, or under the frills and flutings of 
the beautifully arrayed debutante, our women of 
the hour are just what their mothers and grand- 
mothers were — sincere, single-hearted, straight- 
forward, impulsive, emotional, self-denying, lov- 
able, tenderly loving beings. " God Almighty 
made them to match the men," and until he un- 
makes them they are unlikely to change in any 
very important particular. 

The new woman has not yet been seen in the 
great farm land which lies beyond the cities, 
where in quiet neighborhoods, amidst serenities 
and silences, life keeps its tranquil pace. Nor 
is she visible in the beautiful Southern country, 
where women of gentle presence and soft manner 
and honeyed speech rule absolutely the realm into 
which they were born, the men of their families 
always their devoted knights and most courte- 
ous servitors. 

Go where we will, the new woman exists prin- 



THE NEW WOMAN 143 

cipally in the imagination ; or if, perhaps, here 
and there a woman aspires to wearing the name, 
she finds it impossible to live up to it, surren- 
dering at discretion the moment a genuine man 
falls in love with her. The adjective new will 
never be needed to indicate woman in her old 
roles of bride at the altar, of mother cradling 
babe, of teacher in the school-room, of modiste 
fashioning a gown, or even of belle in society, 
or anything else winsome and queenly ; for the 
woman we have always known satisfactorily ful- 
fils all the demands made on womanhood in every 
relation here indicated. 



XXXVII 

THE MORAL EFFECT OF PRETTY GOWNS 

I use the word pretty rather than elegant, 
costly, or even tasteful, because pretty is exactly 
what I mean. One day at sunset I was on my 
way home, after hours of absence, and, with the 
pressure of desire to be beside my own hearth, 
felt little inclined to stop anywhere. But as I 
passed a neighbor's a girl I know tapped on the 
window and then ran to the door, throwing it 
open so that the light in the hall streamed out 
on the shadowy street. 

"Come in, dear," cried my girl friend, coax- 
ingly, "I have something to show you." 

So in I went, and with real interest examined 
the lovely water-color, framed in carved white- 
wood and gold - leaf, which Fanny's friend, the 
young artist who is studying at the League in 
New York, had sent her for a birthday present. 
As I said, I know Fanny, who is one of my girls, 
and I know her John, and they both occupy a 
warm corner in my heart. One of these days 



THE MORAL EFFECT OF PRETTY GOWNS 145 

they are to he married, and I think they will be 
very happy, so congenial are their tastes and so 
generous are their sympathies. 

What has all this to do with the moral effect 
of a pretty gown ? More than you imagine. 

Fanny's mother died five years ago, and Fanny 
has been mother as well as sister to three broth- 
ers, bright, sturdy little fellows, rapidly shooting 
up to tall, aggressive adolescence. Fanny has 
had a great deal on her shoulders, far too much 
for one so young, if Providence had not ordained 
it as her duty, and some time ago she began 
to feel that she had no time to spend on her 
dress. 

" It is as much as I can do/' she told me, " to 
slip into a wrapper in the morning and stay in it 
all day ; I haven't time to put house dresses on, 
much less to make them, and then John never 
gets here before nine o'clock. When I expect 
him I make a toilette on purpose." 

Meanwhile the boys have been growing un- 
ruly. They are bright, loving fellows, but the 
street is increasingly attractive to them. Of 
their father, a lawyer, absorbed in his profession 
and a recluse in his library when at home, they 
see little. It depends on Fanny to tide her 
brothers over the critical time when boyhood's 
bark slips over the bar into the sea of manhood. 

Fanny and I put our heads together, and I 



146 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

urged upon her the trial of personal charm as a 
home missionary effort. I begged her to discard 
her wrappers. They are garments fit only for 
one's dressing-room or for an invalid's leisure. 
" Let your brothers see you simply but prettily 
dressed every day, looking bright and neat and 
sweet, with little touches of adornment about 
your costume, and observe whether or not the 
effect will not be for good." 

The effect was at once visible in the line of a 
certain toning-up of the whole house. It is not 
for nothing that the soldier in service is required 
to keep his uniform and accoutrements in per- 
fect repair and in shining cleanliness. A pro- 
found truth lies under the strict requirements 
of military discipline, for he who is negligent of 
the less will inevitably slur the greater. 

Fanny's simple gray cashmere, with its pink 
satin bows, made her more careful that her table 
should be attractively appointed as well as gener- 
ously provided with viands ; it made her intoler- 
ant of dust in the parlor, it sent her on a tour of 
inspection to the boys' rooms. She found, she 
could not explain how, that she had time enough 
for everything — time to go walking with her 
brothers, time to talk with them over school af- 
fairs and over the matches and games in which 
they took delight. The boys realized that they 
counted for a good deal in their sister's eyes, 



THE MORAL EFFECT OF PRETTY GOWNS 147 

that she thought it worth while to dress for them, 
and they were, therefore, on their best behavior. 
You can fill out the story for yourselves. Per- 
haps some of you are at work in Sabbath-schools 
and working-girls' clubs and young people's read- 
ing-rooms. Do not make the mistake of suppos- 
ing that there is any merit in going into these 
good works in a dowdy gown or an unbecoming 
hat. Try the effect of a pretty toilette ; you will 
discover it to have far-reaching influence on 
the side of good morals. 



XXXVIII 
a father's work 

He was a business man in the prime of life, a 
man with large enterprises on hand, ships at sea, 
and investments in diverse quarters. In his hand 
he held the converging threads of a great mer- 
cantile house, and on his judgment, matured by 
long exercise, on his integrity, assured by an un- 
stained career, hundreds of other men depended 
for daily bread. 

This man, talking with a friend one day lately, 
said with emphasis, pointing to a little fellow at 
play on the lawn : " There, God sparing me, is 
my principal work for the next ten years. What- 
ever else I have to do, it is secondary to the 
bringing up of my boy. Albert's education, not 
in books only, but in everything that constitutes 
true manhood, is, under God, in my hands, and," 
straightening himself up and taking off his hat 
reverently, he concluded, " I'll be true to my 
trust !" 

Fathers are almost always very much occu- 



A FATHER S WOEK 149 

pied by the bread-winning duties and obligations 
which naturally devolve upon them during the 
years when their children are growing up. A 
father often fancies that he has done his full 
share in the rearing of the family when he has 
provided the roof that shelters, the fuel that 
warms, the money that enables it to take a dig- 
nified place in society. Confident in his wife's 
ability to care for the children, he throws upon 
her a greater burden than she ought to carry, 
and leaves on the minds of the young people the 
impression of himself as a mere autocrat who 
occasionally interferes with their freedom, or a 
mere banker who pays the bills. In either case 
he is less to them than God meant him to be 
when He allowed him to assume the position of 
a father, and they are less to him than they 
would be if he took a more reasonable view of 
his privileges and felt more deeply his responsi- 
bilities. To a boy his father, often very much 
a stranger, alas ! represents the type of man lie 
means to be. If he hear his father in conversa- 
tion with other men condone an act of dishon- 
esty because it was successful, speak of an un- 
scrupulous rogue as smart or clever, see him in 
his personal dealings overreach a trustful or 
fleece a helpless victim, the boy has taken a les- 
son in craft, guile, and duplicity which is branded 
in his very soul. 



150 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

If boys and girls are left solely to their 
mother's training, they will probably be one-sided 
and imsymmetrical in character, lacking the ele- 
ment of virility in their education. Fathers and 
mothers are together influential in the home 
economy, and if the mother should be conscien- 
tious, alert, discreet, eagerly anxious for the 
children's welfare, and vigilant in her oversight, 
so should the father be. Of course there are 
widowed mothers, whose misfortune it is that 
they must stand alone. When the father is liv- 
ing he should bear his full part in child-train- 
ing. 

It may seem a little difficult for a father, on 
whose shoulders are heavy responsibilities to un- 
bend sufficiently to make his boy a companion, 
yet as the boy, after all, is his most important 
investment, his dearest hostage to fortune, it is 
not asking too much of him that he bestow here 
a part of his thought and of his time. A father 
who plays baseball, swims, drives, walks, rides, 
and talks politics with his son, while the son is 
yet only a lad, is doing much to shape that 
lad's future. Such a father, if a Christian and a 
church member, will carry his son on the same 
current with himself. The boy will claim his 
birthright early. He will be a Christian as surely 
as he will be a Republican or a Democrat when 
he comes of age. 



A FATHER S WORK 151 

Indulgences coveted by boys chiefly because 
they are the prerogatives of grown men will not 
be desired by the boy whose father has kept him 
pace to pace with himself in play and in work 
and whose father is not a slave to any doubtful 
pleasure. True freedom in reference to any 
needless indulgence is the inheritance of sons 
whose fatbers are themselves free. 

Indirectly, the father's conduct shapes that of 
his sons and daughters, making them polite, def- 
erential, and courteous in precisely the degree 
they have observed in him. It is all very well 
to say, in a perfunctory fasbion, "■'Mind your 
mother, help your sister, be tender to weakness 
and gentle with the aged." The father need 
never say these things in words who invariably 
says them by example, who treats his wife as if 
she were a queen and anticipates her wishes with 
considerate and respectful care. 

The father who has not forgotten his own boy- 
hood can often assist his boy over hard places as 
no woman can. The lad feels confidence in the 
father's experience. There is an instinctive sym- 
pathy between the two — the brotherhood of sex 
as well as the relationship of parent and child. 
To protect his boy in purity, to arm him against 
temptation, to train him for Cfod and for an hon- 
est and useful sphere in the work of the world, a 
father should deal with his son, not by delegated 



152 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

authority, but by loving, steady influence exerted 
at first hand. A man is in good business who 
realizes that his principal work in life is the 
bringing up of the boy who will carry his name 
onward to the next generation. 



XXXIX 

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER 

I WAS shocked to hear one clay a good woman's 
exclamation over a shameful revelation of de- 
pravity in a yonth who had been well brought 
up, " Oh, we cannot expect of a high-spirited boy 
the purity which we insist upon in a girl." I 
felt that with all the advances women have made 
in the direction of public speaking, of influ- 
ence in school and other civic affairs, and in the 
higher education, they have yet much to learn 
if any considerable number of them accept this 
woman's sentiment as their own. 

I cannot think that many women do. I am 
aware, however, that women sometimes dread 
the bringing-up of sons, as though sons were 
harder to train than daughters, and that it is a 
common belief that young men are exposed to 
greater temptations from without and are weaker 
within, and thus more ready to fall into sin, than 
are young women. Common as this notion may 
be, it is not based upon fact nor verified by ob- 



154 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

serration. The Creator, who made men and 
women, and ordained that from babyhood they 
should grow up together in families as brothers 
and sisters under the shelter of the same roof- 
tree, did not apportion the fine gold to the femi- 
nine and the base dross to the masculine sex. In 
the cradle the wee boy is as pure and sweet a thing 
as the tiny girl. In childhood, John is as sensi- 
tive to outside associations, receiving or repel- 
ling the good or the evil as quickly as his sister. 
Grown to the period when youth's currents flow 
into and mingle with the swelling seas of man- 
hood, the boy, if he have been rightly trained, 
is no more in peril, no likelier to be branded by 
the tempter and to enter upon a career of dissi- 
pation, than is the girl. 

In her, too, the life forces struggle where the 
brook and river meet. But it is taken for grant- 
ed that she will carry her whiteness unstained, 
and a lapse on her part is regarded with an un- 
speakable and unforgiving horror of surprise. 

In the way of safeguards for young men, the 
first, and one of the most effectual, would be a 
public opinion precisely like that which holds a 
girl to purity and honor, which expects it, de- 
mands it of her, and will accept no substitute. 
That a young man should, in secret or openly, 
indulge in a course of life for which lie must 
apologize, of which he would be ashamed before 



MY BROTHERS KEEPER 155 

his mother, his pastor, or the girl whom one of 
these days he will ask to be his wife, is one of 
those social blunders which approaches a crime. 
Society should frown on this in a way so uni- 
versal as to bring about a change of front. 

Another safeguard for a young man is one 
which should have been built up around him 
from birth. Fathers and mothers bring up their 
children. Neither can do it as well apart as both 
can do it together. A boy should be intimate 
with his father. Nothing in the father's thought 
should take precedence of the duty he owes to 
his son of cultivating a really close understand- 
ing with him. A man should not hold his boy 
at arm's length. The two, as the younger man 
grows up, should walk shoulder to shoulder, 
breast to breast, and they can do this only when 
confidence is the rule between them, a confidence 
which has grown up day by day during the years 
of immaturity. 

It is a great mistake to suppose that mothers 
alone are responsible for the development into 
manly character of sons. If God take the father 
hence, the mother must do her best, with divine 
help, to take his place, but a boy needs both par- 
ents. On the part of both there should be con- 
stant vigilance without espionage, careful choice 
of schools and companions, careful supervision 
of reading, a great deal of liberty, but always 



156 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

back of that liberty a strong and gentle author- 
ity. Reverence for law is a safeguard for the 
future man. 

Healthy work, in proper proportion to play, is 
another safeguard. Do not make the mistake 
of giving the growing boy too much money. Let 
him earn what he spends, and hold him respon- 
sible for his allowance. Very early in life a deli- 
cate reverence for the body and the proper use 
of it may be instilled into a boy, and no indeli- 
cacy of word or act should pass without grave 
rebuke. The atmosphere around a boy should 
be free from moral malaria. Let him cultivate 
bodily strength and engage freely in healthful 
outdoor sports. Athletics are likely to be the 
physical salvation of the boys of this period. 
Equally they are helping young women, and the 
daily mingling of the sexes in wheeling, golfing, 
and other sports is a blessed thing for all. 

We arrive now at a point more difficult to 
treat. How shall a young girl in society sig- 
nify her abhorrence of evil courses, of which she 
is supposed to be ignorant ? If a girl's own soul 
is a temple swept and garnished, and a room 
in which there is the presence of the indwell- 
ing Christ, her refinement and purity will make 
themselves evident without direct effort on her 
side. She will not be called upon to speak. In 
her company young men will be challenged, as 



MY brother's KEEPER 157 

by an invisible angel with a drawn sword, to be 
worthy. 

If, however, through meretricious reading, or 
talk with silly young women who have low stand- 
ards, the girl invests the "wild" young fellow 
with heroic attributes to which he can lay no 
claim, if she accepts his pinchbeck gallantry 
for pure gold, she is doing much to push him 
downward. Enlisted with women whose gar- 
ments she would scorn to touch, she is dejniv- 
ing the youth of a hallowed safeguard by show- 
ing him that she tolerates sin, and deems the 
wilful sinner more manly than the self-denying 
soul who is afraid to offend God. 

In the Name that is above every name, I call 
upon girls everywhere to think, before they incur 
so great a responsibility as this in pure heedless- 
ness. 



XL 

CONVALESCENCE 

The slow climbing back to health and strength 
after an illness is not unlike the progress one 
makes in mounting a very steep and stony hill. 

A few steps forward and then a slip back, and 
extra effort needed to make up for what one has 
lost. You lie in your room, weak, suffering, ex- 
hausted from pain, and worried over trifles. It 
seems impossible that the household affairs should 
move on without your hand at the helm, and 
visions come to you of waste and disorder, and 
meals delayed, and children neglected, until your 
old ache comes back, and there is a little rise of 
fever, and you are worse instead of better. 

When you were very ill, perhaps tarrying in 
the shadow of death, you took no note of the 
passage of time. AVays and means did not con- 
cern you. The good man of the house, ordina- 
rily so much on your mind, was left to the care 
of the rest of the family. If his meals were not 
just as he liked them, if buttons were missing, 



CONVALESCENCE 159 

or clothing not properly repaired, it was noth- 
ing to yon. For once, the children were not 
in your thought, and Willie, Jeanie, and Frank 
played or went to school, quarrelled, studied, did 
as they chose, with no interference or oversight 
of their mother's. 

Those were forlorn days in the family, when 
everybody was anxious and troubled. But they 
passed by. You turned the corner for recovery, 
and now you are getting well, not very rapidly, 
but still making progress. If only you could 
keep from distressing yourself needlessly ! If 
only you could exercise faith and believe that all 
is going well ! For convalescence will not be 
hurried; you have to sit still and wait, and the 
greater your patience and quietness, the speedier 
is the return of your strength. 

Sometimes there is a very sweet message for 
you in your little every-day text-book. You open 
it at the place marked by the ribbon, to the date 
of day and month, and this is what God has for 
you, your portion of manna sent from His own 
hand : " We know that all things work together 
for good to them that love God," with such a 
stanza as this from Faber : 

"111 that lie blesses is our good, 
And unblessed good is ill, 
And all is right that seems most wrong, 
If it be His sweet will." 



160 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

Or this may be the King's word to your soul, 
" Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his 
trust," with Miss Havergal's little bit of melody : 

"Just to let thy Father do 

What He will. 
Just to know that He is true, 

And be still ; 
Just to trust Him, this is all ; 

Then the day will surely be 
Peaceful, whatsoe'er befall, 

Bright and blessed, calm and free." 

There are people who prefer reading their 
Bibles, as a whole, caring very little for frag- 
mentary books of devotion ; but when we are weak 
in body and mentally enfeebled because of the 
body's weakness, then the wee bit morsel is easier 
to assimilate than the slice from the great loaf. 
Not that the single text should take the place of 
the chapter or the quotation satisfy when there 
is time and strength for the whole passage ; but 
the little text-books are comforts, and are like 
the child's piece between meals : they sustain the 
strength for a while. 

The convalescent must be content to creep 
back to strength. One of these days, especial- 
ly if youth be on your side, you will find the 
shackles suddenly loosed, and your old freedom 
again bestowed upon you, the time of illness will 



CONVALESCENCE 161 

recede till it seems but the memory of a dream, 
and you will probably be the better for the rest 
it afforded to your overwrought frame. Very busy 
people often rest in no other way so thoroughly 
as when illness lays its imperative hand on toil- 
ing brain and limbs, and enforces repose. 

The friends of the convalescent must make 
allowances for the irritability and nervousness 
which make the patient impatient to the verge 
of unreason. Nerves which are normal often fail 
to comprehend the discomfort produced by little 
things when nerves are bare to the edge. The 
drawing of a needle through cloth, the scratch- 
ing of a pen, above all, the rattling of newspapers 
or the creaking of shoes, drive a nervous invalid 
to a pitch which approximates the frantic, though 
the person in health does not even observe them. 
To be patient with a person at death's door is 
easy. To be equally patient with one who is fret- 
fully and querulously coming back to life is often 
harder. 

Blessings on men. The generous love, the un- 
stinted tenderness, the resolute patience of men, 
can never be praised enough. Scott's famous 
lines — 

"O woman! in our hours of ease, 
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, . . . 
When pain and anguish wring the brow, 
A ministering angel thou !" — 
11 



162 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

are all very well and very true, but Browning 
strikes as true a note in "Time's Kevenges": 

"I've a friend, over the sea, 
I like him, but he loves me. — 
— And if some vein 

Were to snap to-night in this heavy brain, 
To-morrow month, if I lived to try, 
Round should I just turn quietly, 
Or, out of the bed-clothes stretch my hand, 
Till I found him, come from his foreign land, 
To be my nurse in this poor place, 
And make my broth and wash my face, 
And light my fire, and all the while 
Bear with his old good-humored smile, 
That I told him, ' Better have kept away 
Than come and kill me, night and day, 
"With, worse than fever throbs and shoots, 
The creaking of his clumsy boots.'" 

Blessings on the strength and the goodness, 
the loving-kindness of fathers, brothers, and hus- 
bands. No wonder the crying baby is soothed 
and stilled, when it cuddles up against the warm 
breast, is encircled in the strong arm of its fa- 
ther. Men, as a rule, are less at the mercy of 
their nerves than women are. They are organized 
for rougher service, they do not carry about heads 
and stomachs which are upset by every jar. Con- 
sequently they make splendid nurses, and many 
an ailing wife invokes a benediction daily on the 
faithful, considerate, and never-failing love of her 



CONVALESCENCE 163 

husband, a love that is armor of proof against 
her petulance, and a shield for her in every hour 
of need. 

In a little book, which has recently been widely 
read, ''Ships that Pass in the Night," there is a 
chapter full of suggestion for those who look 
after the sick : " The doctors in Petershof always 
said that the care-takers of the invalids were a 
much greater anxiety than the invalids them- 
selves. They either fussed about too much, or 
they did not fuss about at all. They all began 
by doing the right thing ; they all ended by do- 
ing the wrong. The fussy ones had fits of apathy 
when the poor, irritable patients seemed to get a 
little better ; the negligent ones had paroxysms 
of attentiveness when their invalids, accustomed 
to loneliness and neglect, seemed to become rather 
worse by being worried." 

To do enough, but not to be superfluous in 
attention, to have endless patience and constant 
cheerfulness, are requisites of the ideal nurse. 
Nobody can be expected to be the ideal invalid. 



XLI 

A GOLDEN MILE-STONE 

1 ' As the days of a tree are the days of my peo- 
ple." An eloquent speaker commenting on this 
beautiful simile at a significant and joyful anni- 
versary occasion, pursued the analogy further, 
and compared the life of a church, a local church, 
to the growth of a tree. As the tree, the church 
sent out its vital shoots, branches for shade and 
for shelter 1 , put forth blossoms in their season and 
fruit in the time thereof ; afforded homes to the 
singing birds, guarded the household eaves, made 
beautiful the highway and the forest, battled 
with the storms, aspired ever heavenward. How 
lovely the thought, "as the days of a tree !" 

It was the fiftieth anniversary of the founding 
of a church in a city near New York — its golden 
mile-stone. I had known the church long and 
loved it well. In my girlhood my name had been 
on its membership roll, and its pastor had been 
mine. Those dearest to me on earth had wor- 
shipped at its altars, and a certain pew on one of 



A GOLDEN MILE-STONE 165 

its aisles is the sacred spot where I can still 
shut my eyes and behold my mother's face as 
she sat, year by year, looking up to God and 
listening to His servant as he spoke the words 
of life. 

With the history of the church I had been al- 
ways familiar, knowing the crises through which 
it had passed, knowing it for its fidelity to its 
creed, rejoicing at its steady showing of its 
colors, its onward march. In 1844, on April 19tb, 
a few people gathered to organize it in the hall 
of a public school, which still stands opposite its 
present substantial and commodious building. 
The church has long been free from debt, beauti- 
fied by the loving hands of its members, and is 
itself the rallying-place of a great multitude of 
tender and hallowed associations. 

The fifty years between 1844 and 1894 were 
wonderful years in the world's progress and in 
the development of Christian institutions. Years 
of inventions, discoveries, political changes, of 
the marching on of God's kingdom. They have 
seen the little village where this church was 
founded broaden out into a great city. They 
have witnessed the downfall of slavery and the 
cementing of our States into a more permanent 
union, the upbuilding of our nation after the 
elemental strifes of our Civil War, the binding 
of the whole world by the ocean cables which 



1G6 WITH MY NEIGHliOKS 

carry messages around the globe. Wonderful 
fifty years ! 

In the half-century this church has had but 
two pastors, one for ten, the other, still hale and 
vigorous, for forty years. A venerable and be- 
nignant man, with hair and beard as white as 
snow, form erect and stately, eye undimmed, 
voice clear and resonant, the church has reason 
to be proud of its senior pastor. A few years 
ago it called to his and its assistance a colleague 
in pulpit and pastoral work, the pastor's son, and 
the two, in perfect accord, carry forward the sev- 
eral enterprises of the church. 

How wise for every congregation able to do so, 
to have more than one officiating minister. The 
work of any church, however obscure or small, is 
an immense burden to be laid on one man, when 
there is taken into account the parish visiting, 
the ministration to the sick, the poor, the be- 
reaved, and the perplexed, the funerals, the many 
meetings, the sermons, and prayer-meeting talks. 
The most efficient and prosperous churches are 
those in which this great work is divided, and 
which do the more and the greater work because 
there are more than one wearied clergyman to 
carry it on. 

The services of praise in connection with this 
church jubilee were spread over the space of a 
week, and were reminiscent, inspiring, and evan- 



A GOLDEN MILE-STONE 167 

gelistic. Papers were read, written by former 
and present members of the church, and greet- 
ings and letters, really love-letters, came from 
the West and the South, from those who longed 
to be there, but were prevented by Providential 
reasons. 

On the Sabbath morning succeeding the even- 
ing of which mention has been made, the older 
pastor preached from the words of the Lord to 
Moses : "Speak unto the children of Israel that 
they go forward." 

In the course of the sermon one remark was 
made with emphasis, and it deserves to be re- 
peated in print. During the long connection as 
pastor and people, the pastor said that never 
for one day, nor one hour, had there been the 
least delay in the payment of the pastor's salary. 
Not once in forty years had the church suffered 
its pastor to feel a passing solicitude as to his in- 
come. It had been their custom to pay the salary, 
invariably and punctually, the moment it was due. 

There are churches of which this cannot bo 
said, churches which do not blush to let their 
pastor's salary fall into arrears, and which pay it 
grudgingly at last. Nor are such churches less 
exacting than others, in that which they demand 
of their minister. 

A communion service on the Sunday afternoon 
packed the old church galleries and floor with 



168 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

communicants. Back to the mother Church with 
their pastors came representatives of the four 
flourishing churches which had gone forth in 
colonies, each of which has its building free 
from indebtedness, and its manifold agencies 
for good. 

One of the pleasantest experiences of the week 
was the reunion from time to time of those who 
had been long and widely separated. Old friends 
clasped cordial hands again, recognizing each 
other by some occult process, since often the 
years had transformed blooming youth into grave 
middle age, or made strong men and women in 
their prime feeble and aged. For as William 
Morris observes, the years are always going on 
silently, and among them they bring the eld. 

It was a happy occasion this anniversary, and 
one to be remembered long. How hallowed is the 
life of a church ! What a centre of sacred in- 
fluences! What a blessing to the community in 
which it is set, like a beacon! How far this can- 
dle sheds its light ! Only heaven itself can tell 
the story or keep the record of what one Chris- 
tian church may do for men. The record is ver- 
ily kept in the Lamb's book of life. 



XLII 
THE RISING GENERATION" 

The rising generation ! It is an object of un- 
failing interest to the tAvo generations which im- 
mediately precede and exist simultaneously with 
and for it. To the generation which stands to 
the rising one, in direct order of parenthood, it 
is, of course, the most important thing on earth. 
To the second generation back of it, its grand- 
parents and the greatest admirers of its marvel- 
lous developments, the rising generation is an 
object of pride and complacency. 

In other words, the children, God bless them, 
occupy the largest share of the world's attention. 
For them men toil unceasingly, live self-deny- 
ingly, hope continually. Homes centre about 
the children. Fathers and mothers have one 
end in view, one supreme end, and that is the 
bringing up of their children to take their places, 
honorably and successfully, when they have fin- 
ished their course and gone higher. 

All the vast machinery of our school systems, 



170 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

public and private, our academies and colleges, 
and our various professional institutions, has 
been called into operation and is kept at work 
for the benefit of the rising generation. To train 
these boys and girls so that they may make the 
most of themselves and of their opportunities is 
held to be the sacred obligation of the State, as 
well as of every individual. 

It is a matter of course that every rising gener- 
ation in its turn is the victim of blunders, and 
suffers more or less from the misplaced indul- 
gence or the needless rigidity of those who are 
responsible for its growth and its instruction. 

Looking over the wide field of the world one's 
heart aches at the misery, oppression, and suffer- 
ing which little children and young people are 
forced to endure. Child labor in factories, child 
labor in tenements, where little ones of tender 
years are forced, too early, to undertake tasks 
beyond their strength, child slavery, as practised 
virtually by those who make money from the gifts 
and accomplishments of children — these make a 
sum of agony which cries to Heaven for relief and 
for vengeance. 

Apart from special forms of bondage and hard 
work which fall on helpless childhood through 
the poverty or the greed of the men and women 
who control it, a great deal of needless trouble is 
the portion of children because grown-up people 



THE RISING GENERATION" 171 

do not understand them. Accusations, for ex- 
ample, of falsehood are brought unjustly upon 
sensitive little hearts because of the difference of 
vocabulary. Imagination is very vivid in the 
case of children, and their statements are colored 
by their own fancies, when no untruth is intend- 
ed. Along comes a big, well-meaning blunderer 
of a father or mother, who, by a cruel doubt, 
gives the child its first knowledge that there are 
lies in the world. Few adults remember the pas- 
sionate joy, the intense pain, the Eden bright- 
ness, the occasional woe, which were their por- 
tion in childhood. And so they are harsh when 
they ought to be forbearing, punish Avhen to 
punish is a crime against the defenceless, and 
plume themselves on their discipline when they 
ought to bemoan their own stupidity in sack- 
cloth. 

On the other hand, the rising generation is 
often endangered by too great liberty. The sons 
of the very rich, or of the moderately well-to-do, 
are given too much money to spend, and too little 
responsibility is laid upon them. The blessed- 
ness of work, in the right degree, cannot be over- 
estimated, and some parents, having borne the 
burden in their own day, are foolishly ready to 
spare their children every trial. Such parents 
might take lessons from our little neighbors, the 
birds. These "little brothers of the air'' cud- 



172 WITH MY NEIGHBOKS 

die their baby broods, wait on them from morn- 
ing until night, feed them incessantly, hover over 
and defend them ; but when the time comes for 
them to fly, who so relentness as the father bird, 
who so resolved as the mother ? They appear to 
know that the younglings must try their own 
strength, and they insist on their doing so, even 
if the baby birds fall and are hurt. 

The rising generation has a right to the most 
positive Christian training which it can receive. 
Perhaps the great fault and the weakest point 
of our education in this country and at this 
period is a deficiency at this vital place. We 
cram with tidbits of science, with facts and dates 
and syntax and etymology, but we forget that 
with their mother's milk children should be in- 
doctrinated in honesty, in purity, and in the fear 
of God. Whatever else may be left in abeyance, 
it is unsafe and insane to leave the question of a 
religious education to accident. Children should 
be taught to observe the Sabbath, to obey God's 
law, to read the Bible, to look up in every cir- 
cumstance to One who is a strong habitation for 
the righteous. 

This is the best inheritance to which the ris- 



XLIII 
LOVE IN DOMESTIC LIFE 

Love is supposed to be the one foundation 
necessary for the firm building up of domestic 
happiness. The question arises, is this true ? 

Years ago the writer knew a man and a wom- 
an who made a love-match. They were deeply, 
entirely, faithfully in love with one another, and 
during a score of years of wedded life they so re- 
mained. But there was neither peace nor com- 
fort in their domicile. The wife neither knew 
nor cared to learn how to make the most of their 
modest income. Debt was hung around her hus- 
band's neck till it weighed him to the earth. He 
felt like a felon, dragging a ball and chain. While 
himself a man of strict integrity and fastidious 
refinement, he was often forced to dodge round 
corners, like the renowned Dick Swiveller, in or- 
der to elude duns and creditors. When he re- 
turned home from the office, weary and spent, 
he often had personally to cook the dinner, and 
he always had to cut out the children's frocks 



174 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and help make them. This is not a fancy, but 
is an ower-true sketch. 

Yet never in the twenty years did he cease to 
love the pretty peach-blossom creature he had 
married. Faded and washed out, she was always 
beautiful in his loyal eyes. And never for one in- 
stant, though she fretted, and cried, and spoiled 
dinners, and could not sew, and ran up bills for 
him to pay, did she cease to love him. On her 
death-bed she murmured, "You have been as 
good as an angel, John \" 

It was not an exaggerated statement. An 
angel could have been no more patient, no more 
gentle, no more tender and kind. 

In due course John found another mate. She 
was a middle-aged widow, a woman with faculty. 
She could manage affairs ; her dinners were per- 
fect ; her husband's life was a dream of common- 
place, material comfort. He prospered exceed- 
ingly under her regime, and was "known in the 
gates, among the elders of the land." Nobody 
seeing the well-dressed, well-brushed, well-fed 
gentleman, ana remembering his former expe- 
rience, could avoid a mental congratulation of 
him. 

Yet he never "loved" Joan, and he mourned 
Esther till the last hour of his life. Who can 
explain this problem ? Love must be the all in 
all, after all. 



XLIV 

A FIELD FOR CLEVER WOMEN" 

"I often" wonder," said a friend, "that some 
quick-witted, deft-handed woman does not set 
herself up in business as a maker-over of old 
clothes. Many ladies can do this to perfection 
in their own families, and they cut down, turn, 
twist, cleanse, repair, and combine old garments 
with bits of new material until the result equals 
the first state of the gown or wrap, possibly sur- 
passes it. One of my friends says that her 
black silks never really wear out, because she has 
a new waist made, or another pair of sleeves, or 
puts a new breadth in the front, or the back, or 
the sides, and the gown starts triumphantly upon 
a new career. My gowns, on the contrary/' the 
lady went on to explain, " are worn straight out — 
from resplendent newness to threadbare shabbi- 
ness. Alas! the descent is easy, and I have never 
yet found a person who would, for liberal pay- 
ment, make them over. I do not wish to plan 
or bother about them myself, but I hate to throw 



176 WITH MY KEIGHKOES 

aside a dress which might have a new lease of 
usefulness were it properly reconstructed." 

Sympathizing heartily with this friend, we sug- 
gest that there must be women waiting for this 
profession, as it undoubtedly waits for them. 



XLV 

THE BURDEN OF THE GRASSHOPPER 

It is a pathetic little simile, that old one, of 
the grasshopper being a burden. That so small 
and so light a thing can really overweigh any- 
one is a problem which youth and health cannot 
solve. Indeed, it is only when the grasshopper 
has really become a burden that people begin to 
understand what it means. 

One of the signs of advancing years is in the 
inability to bear trifling discouragements with 
composure, to meet disappointments with for- 
titude, and to have patience with little things 
which are annoying. When we find ourselves 
thrown off our balance by some very small affair, 
when mole-hills assume the proportion of moun- 
tains in our eyes, then we may know that we are 
really growing older — not old, perhaps, but older. 
Another sign which is almost infallible is to be rec- 
ognized by those who find themselves becoming 
constantly reminiscent. We know that it is often 
said of extremely old people that they remember 



178 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

perfectly well what happened in their childhood, 
but that the affairs of the present do not seem to 
impress their minds ; so that when any one of us 
discovers that she is living very largely in the 
past, that she is constantly remembering what 
took place when she was a girl, that she takes 
more pleasure in thinking of what used to be 
than what is now, she may be on guard lest she 
is nearing the period when the grasshopper shall 
become a burden. 

So, too, when one becomes impatient with the 
point of view of younger people, falling into the 
habit of criticising those who are young, being 
out of touch with the generation that is coming 
to the front, she may then infer that she her- 
self belongs to an older period. 

There is no reason why any one should be dis- 
tressed at the mere fact of growing old. Every 
age has its advantages and its pleasures. The 
maturity of experience is at least worth as much 
as the brightness and promise of youth, just as the 
ripe fruit is more to be desired than that which 
hangs crude and green upon the tree. But it is a 
pity when older people take upon themselves the 
role of wet blankets, or are so difficult that peo- 
ple cannot get on with them. To be exacting, 
disagreeable, and fault-finding is bad enough in 
young people, but it is simply intolerable in the 
old. ^ 



THE BURDEN OF THE GRASSHOPPER 179 

Elderly people should be careful not to be 
queer and odd, not to allow themselves to behave 
in so eccentric a manner that people are tempted 
to call them " cranks." The word is slangy, but 
descriptive. Old people should be careful about 
their personal appearance. In dress and in 
demeanor they should cultivate that which is 
attractive. A pretty girl, though she seldom 
knows it, is pretty and sweet in herself merely 
by virtue of her youth. She can get on with 
the plainest possible sort of gown. She would 
be charming if she never wore anything more 
expensive than calico. 13ut an older woman 
should have the costly raiment, the pronounced 
elegance, velvets, silks, sheer muslins, and every 
sort of daintiness that she can afford. 

There is a passage in a recent novel which 
touchingly describes the first moment in which 
a woman who has been extremely beautiful and 
very much courted all her life awakes to the 
fact that her youth is gone. It is in a drawing- 
room after dinner, and she is tired, having had 
a very trying day. She is conversing with an 
artist who is deficient in politeness, and who 
suffers his preoccupation to make him negligent 
of his hostess. The artist is wholly engrossed 
with the beautiful young daughter of the house, 
and his attention wanders constantly from the 
mother. The mother has always been accus- 



180 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

tomed to surpass the daughter, and she can- 
not understand how it is that her sceptre seems 
to be departing. Suddenly she catches sight 
of herself in the glass, and it comes over her 
with the force of a torrent that her beautiful 
complexion has become faded and sallow, that 
crow's-feet surround her eyes, that the gold has 
gone out of her hair — that she has, without 
being aware of it, grown old. It is a moment of 
acute pain and heartache. 

Some of us remember the first time that any- 
body gave us special consideration on the ground 
that we needed it because we were not young 
any more. Few of us have the philosophy to be 
pleased when a younger person offers a courtesy 
on the ground that we are not strong enough to 
be treated as though we were young. This is 
why elderly gentlemen insist on waiting on them- 
selves, and disclaim the attention that would 
have saved them a trip up a flight of stairs, or 
would hand them a cane or a coat. This is why 
a gray-haired woman wishes that a girl, in offer- 
ing her a seat in a cable - car, would not add, 
"I cannot let anybody stand who is so much 
older than 1.*' 

The only way in which people can be happy as 
they are growing old is by frankly accepting the 
ground on which they stand, and making up their 
minds that they will enjoy the privileges and im- 



THE BURDEN" OF THE GRASSHOPPER 181 

mimities of the situation. These are not few. 
If a person going on in life has kept health 
and strength, there is no reason why she should 
not have a much better time during the last 
twenty years of her career than she had during 
the first. She may go where she chooses un- 
challenged. She may engage in any work that 
pleases her. She is in sympathy with people 
of every age and of every grade of culture, and 
if she be lovable everybody will love her. 



XLVI 

THE CAEE OF THE CAEE-TAKEE 

A geeat deal of sympathy is very 'properly 
felt and expressed in relation to those who are 
ill. The sufferer shut into the narrow confines 
of her room or her couch, and compelled to 
forego the pleasant activities of life, her ^clays 
dragging on slowly and monotonously, is the ob- 
ject of our pity, and claims all the gentle atten- 
tion that love and tenderness can give. 

But it is also a question whether pity should 
not be bestowed upon those who are well, and 
who are compelled by the voices, both of duty 
and inclination, to take up the continual burden 
of caring for the sick. We are not here think- 
ing of those occasional periods which come into 
families, when the illness of one or two or, per- 
haps, three at a time taxes the courage and j:>a- 
tience and skill of those who are well, but rather 
of households in which one person, an invalid, 
lingers on month after month, and year after 
year, while those around her are taxed to the 
utmost in unceasing care. 



THE CARE OF THE CARE-TAKER 183 

The dilemma is undoubtedly a difficult one. 
It would be heartless to the utmost degree to neg- 
lect the one who is suffering, to be irritable and 
impatient with the querulousness and irritabil- 
ity which are the result of pain. Pain and weak- 
ness long endured sometimes have the effect of 
rendering the mind feeble, in a measure, and in- 
valids often become exacting and indiscreet with- 
out their suspecting it, and, indeed, without their 
being in the least to blame. 

It is often easy for people outside such a home 
to blame those who are charged with the inva- 
lid's care for what seems to the outsiders a lack 
of gentle consideration. These critics think that 
the invalid is not always treated with the tender- 
ness and forbearance which her condition should 
enlist. They say, in effect, "If we were in that 
place, and charged with that duty, we would bear 
ourselves differently ; no kindness, no self - de- 
nial, no sacrifice would be too great for us." At 
the same time they have not been tried, and they 
do not know how difficult it may be to maintain 
zealous and almost angelic patience at concert 
pitch during months and years. 

So far as possible, those who are well in a 
house where there is a chronic invalid should 
try to maintain their own health by every pos- 
sible means. Again and again have we seen the 
nervous, suffering invalid absolutely wear out 



184 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

and outlive several strong, people ; sometimes a 
daughter dying years before the suffering moth- 
er, sometimes a sister, who is apparently perfect- 
ly well, fading like a flower, while the invalid 
herself survives and lingers on chained to her 
lounge or her room. 

It is not selfish ; it is, on the contrary, an evi- 
dence of unselfish wisdom which is shown when 
the person who is care-taker and nurse looks out 
for her own health and strength. When it is 
possible, she should insist on having some one 
relieve her of part of her cares. The excuse 

often is : " S or J will have nobody 

else near her ; nobody can give her the com- 
fort that I can ; she will take her medicine, 
or have her pillows changed, or listen to read- 
ing only when I am there myself." This may 
be so, but a little tactful and persevering deter- 
mination will change it without injury to the 
invalid. 

The care-taker must have rest, and that not 
in the room with the invalid. She should have 
fresh air and pleasant society, and now and then 
a little change and relaxation. It must not be 
forgotten that the chronic invalid after a while 
becomes, in a way, accustomed to the pain which 
was at first so hard to bear, and that it loses, to 
some extent, its keen-edged power to hurt. Nat- 
urally, with so few interests, the invalid's mind 



THE CARE OF THE CARE-TAKER 185 

settles on itself and its general misfortune, and 
the first thing she thinks of is her own comfort 
and ease. No one should reproach her for this ; 
but, on the other hand, if there be no one at 
hand to look out for the interests of the person 
who is well, but who may any day be ill, she 
should look out for them herself. 



XL VII 
COMMUNION" 

We sometimes fancy, in this hurrying and tu- 
multuous age of ours, that no preceding age has 
been so full of temptations to materialism, so 
bristling with difficulties which war against the 
better life. But this is a mistake. The most 
cursory glance at history shows human nature in 
every century very much the same ; reveals, as 
the smoke rolls away, the world-old battles be- 
tween sin and righteousness forever going on. 

Our age, with which we are more immediately 
concerned than with any that has preceded it, 
affords problems enough for our powers of solu- 
tion. Certainly, we are aware of a subtle feeling 
in the atmosphere that drags us away from the 
spiritual, and strongly inclines us to lower levels. 
In the fierce competitions of business, in the mul- 
tiplication of cares, in the complexity of life, as 
opposed to a former simplicity, we find ourselves 
with little time for meditation, for introspection, 
and for looking up. 



COMMUNION 187 

There is even in some sincere Christians a sort 
of revolt against prayer. "Why waste time and 
breath," they exclaim, " in petitions to God, 
when the cry ought rather to be to ourselves to 
be up and doing ?" They are impatient of the 
hour spent in the closet, with the door shut and 
the world in the distance. The world beats so 
relentlessly against their closet that the door is 
always at least ajar, and often flies open. Nei- 
ther public meeting nor secret prayer is pleasing 
to Christians of this type ; they are satisfied only 
to be at what they consider work. 

There must be both types, no doubt, in every 
church, and God sees the prayer that is expressed 
in action as well as the prayer that is told in 
speech, and answers both in His own way. But, 
more than all, it is necessary to our soul's growth 
that we keep fast hold of the great truth that 
both in prayer and in work we must be con- 
sciously at one with God. We must have faith 
in Him, not merely belief in ourselves. 

" What difference does it make ?" I heard a 
good pastor say the other day, alluding to a sit- 
uation which was embarrassing and full of dis- 
couragement. "The Master knows all about it. 
We have nothing to do except to trust Him, and 
go straight forward." The words were as child- 
like and simple as those of the little one at home 
or in school who has nothing to do except to 



188 WITH MY JSTEIGHBOKS 

trust and obey. Could we live all the while with 
the blessed realized sense that God is working 
with us, that our cares and troubles are known 
to Him, and sent by Him, it would be as much 
a part of our daily life to pray as to breathe. 
Prayer would be involuntary, and it would enter 
into our work and vitalize it, and supply a mo- 
tive power, as steam for machinery. 

More important than all is this divine life 
in the soul, this union Avith the Beloved One. 
Let us seek it in our secret prayers, in the sanct- 
uary, and, as well, in the daily routine of our 
households and offices, and wherever God has 
appointed our tasks. 

It is possible that a certain impatience with 
the devotional side of piety has naturally fol- 
lowed upon a great and increasing interest in 
practical philanthropy. We are ready to wash 
the saints' feet, if need be, to clothe the naked, 
and to feed the hungry. These seem kind and 
practical actions, requiring energy and self-deni- 
al. They occupy time to present advantage with 
tangible results. 

But in "an age which is rapidly losing the 
consciousness of sin," which is far too willing to 
" condone the wrong which is yet unconquered," 
we do not at once sympathize with the weakness 
which can gain strength only from a prolonged 
vigil, a wrestle with the angel of God, which 



COiniUXION 189 

clamors imperatively, "I will not let thee go, 
except thou bless me." 

May we not well consider whether we shall not 
gain much by sitting oftener at the Master's feet, 
and by cultivating the habit of communion with 
God? Communion includes prayer, but is itself 
something higher and sweeter ; it is petition with 
the sense of answer, merged in complete submis- 
sion to the will of God, all-knowing, all-loving, 
all-directing. 



XLVIII 
POLITENESS 

A chaem of social intercourse is found in that 
sweet deference of manner which is rarer than it 
ought to be. We are so occupied with affairs, 
or we are so wrought upon by the spirit of 
the period, that, older or younger, we are too 
prone to forget the gentle courtesy, the rever- 
ence for the rights and opinions of our asso- 
ciates, which eases the machinery of daily life, 
and makes family intercourse agreeable and de- 
lightful. 

Youth is naturally aggressive. It has the 
world before it. Its impulse is to sweep aside 
every barrier of caution and to push opposition 
out of its way. Impetuous and in haste to reach 
its goal, which has not yet begun to recede in 
the mists and fogs of hope deferred, it cannot 
brook the smallest obstacle. This very quality 
of the imperious and irresistible, which in its 
excess is disastrous to pleasant social relations, 
helps to make the young successful in leader- 



POLITENESS 191 

ship, and enables them to carry the banners of 
conquest in whatever they undertake. 

But the quality has its reverse side. AVhen a 
girl, a loving and candid and sweet-natured girl, 
openly contradicts her mother in a conversation ; 
when a young man vehemently and discourteous- 
ly expresses his difference of opinion from one 
much older; when, in short, brusquenessand ab- 
solute rudeness color the manner of really excel- 
lent young people, it is time for an interrogation 
and a pause. 

We think a great deal in these days about 
"good form." Conventionalities are rightfully 
regarded as appropriate hedges, which the well- 
bred guard sedulously, their limitations and their 
dictates being manifestly founded in good feel- 
ing and the outgrowth of common-sense. But 
with all this there is a danger that the truth 
at the heart of things may be ignored while so 
much care is maintained about externals. One 
external, an air of thoughtful consideration for 
those with whom we are in personal and daily 
contact and intercourse, cannot be too highly 
prized. 

How winning it is, this grace of deference ! 
In an elderly woman or man, one polished by 
long acquaintance with the best usages of socie- 
ty, it is a fascinating courtliness. We say this 
is a lady or a gentleman of the old school, im- 



192 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

plying by our use of the phrase that the new 
school may even now sit at the feet of the old 
and acquire some valuable information. In a 
young person this well - bred politeness, which 
knows self - restraint, which refrains from in- 
terruptions and violent disclaimers and unnec- 
essary superlatives, and takes time to show its 
sincerity and kindliness in acts and words of 
thoughtful and tender attention, is a grace which 
outranks beauty and throws the highest talent 
into the shade. 

Many thoroughly admirable people need to 
take themselves in hand because they have un- 
derrated the importance of good manners in 
daily life. Here is your field and mine, friends, 
at our own tables, in the sitting - room when we 
gather around the evening lamp, on the porch, 
or wherever we happen to be. It were well for 
some of us to impose on our dispositions and our 
too-ready tongues the discipline of a silent but 
military drill. 

To be considerate is to be charming, winsome, 
and attractive. For daily guidance in this and 
in some kindred matters there is no better rule 
than an old one written in an old book — "In 
honor preferring one another." 

We have careful thought for the stranger, 
And smiles for the sometime guest, 



POLITENESS 193 

But oft for our own tbe bitter tone, 
Though we love our own the best. 

Ah ! lip with the curve impatient, 
Ah ! brow with the look of scorn, 

'Twere a cruel fate were the night too late 
To undo the work of morn. 



XLIX 
THE UNREST OF OUK GIRLS 

"Whence comes the prevalent unrest of girl- 
hood ? That it exists no thoughtful observer 
can fail to perceive — a phase in the life of the 
modern girl alike irritating to herself and puz- 
zling to her parents. We older people, who 
regard the young from the somewhat higher 
plane reached by much stumbling and climbing, 
remember our own struggles, and are yet aware 
of a difference in kind and in degree. It is 
impossible not to be intensely interested in the 
end -of -the -century girl, a delightful creature, 
fascinating, lovable, ambitious, sure of herself, 
impatient of restraint, eager for individual work, 
and straining against the curb of sex limitations. 
She probably has as much conscience and as 
much sincere piety as her predecessor of a hun- 
dred years ago- — she who wrote down in diaries 
never meant for naked type her exaggerated re- 
pentances and saintly aspirations. The other 
girl had a narrower sphere, but she was more 



THE UNREST OF OUR GIRLS 195 

contented in its daily round than is her grand- 
daughter, all ferment and effervescence, crying 
out to enter the lists like a man, and demanding 
only a fair field and no favor. 

Our girls — let me add that I am not speaking 
of those who must become bread-winners away 
from home, but of a large number to whom home 
offers the best and nearest opportunity for effort 
— are singularly impatient of what they deem 
household restrictions. Not impatient only, but 
also often amazingly blind. I know girls who 
long to go forth from the familiar home thresh- 
old that they may become something in their 
point of view more important than just that dear 
and precious being, a daughter at home. To be 
a journalist, bidden here and bidden there by 
an inexorable and exacting profession ; to be a 
trained nurse, caring for the sick in hospitals ; 
to be a foreign missionary, speeding over the 
seas to do Christ's work in Africa or India ; to be 
an elocutionist, interpreting the obscurities of 
poetry and the subtleties of dialect to admiring 
crowds — these are the beckoning careers which 
allure our young sisters and make simple domes- 
tic life by contrast insipid and uninviting. 

Yet, could they but see with clear vision the 
girl who stays with a delicate mother, lifting her 
burdens and smoothing her path ; the girl who 
coaches her younger brother and fits him for col- 



19G WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

lege ; the girl who makes desserts and mends 
stockings and teaches her Sunday-school class 
after thorough and prayerful preparation • the 
girl whom a good man woos and wins ; the girl 
who marries and becomes a sweet wife and a 
tender mother; just the plain, old-fashioned, 
never - out - of - fashion girl who cares more for 
being good than for doing great things — this, 
and not the other, is the fortunate and the envi- 
able girl. 

The defect of our period is our incessant clamor 
for the utilities. Why is such a one studying 
this art, that science ? What is she going to do 
with it ? we ask. And there is a lurking sense of 
disapproval in many minds when they learn that 
the thorough education is not in the line of a 
direct investment, sure to return an immediate 
and quite disproportionate interest. 

My own feeling is strongly against the tendency 
which urges young women needlessly into the 
crowded ranks of the wage-earning. When duty 
points there the girl simply obeys, without con- 
flict, without unrest. It is when duty points, as 
it often does, plainly in the opposite direction 
that the agitation begins. The finely educated 
young woman with work lying at her hand in 
her father's house, in her own town, her own 
church, is not attracted by this, but beats against 
the bars like a caged bird, because she cannot, as 



THE UNREST OF OUR GIRLS 197 

she thinks, develop as God meant her to along 
the lines of her own choosing. 

To such a girl I long to say, in all loving-kind- 
ness, " When God has work for you outside and 
beyond the present, he will set wide the door. 
Wait, dear child. The waiting is itself a prepara- 
tion. Fill each day in the meantime with sunny 
helpfulness, with cheery attention to your loved 
ones, with simple, gentle, womanly occupations 
well done. So will you discover the secret of 
peace and take to heart this thought, that all 
things below are relatively important, and that 
from the point of view of the angels she who sets 
the home table three times a day is as admirable 
as she who in any way ministers to the larger 
public away from home." 



L 

THE TOILET OF THE SOUL 

In these clays a great deal of attention is paid 
to the cultivation of physical grace and attrac- 
tiveness of face and figure. Intelligent people 
have gradually arrived at the conclusion that 
what a clever woman calls the " duty of beauty" 
is a matter of health, of bathing, of diet, of dress, 
of air and exercise, of sleep and of a serene mind. 
Much more space than formerly is given in pe- 
riodical literature to this single department, and 
women old and young are taught the open se- 
crets of keeping themselves fair and fresh amid 
the thronging occupations of life. The word 
" massage," for instance, was practically un- 
known to our grandmothers, who accepted wrin- 
kles and loss of complexion with perfect com- 
posure, supposing that to "fade as a leaf" was 
a necessity of advancing years. Those excellent 
women would have thought it sheer waste of 
time and a snare of the evil one to manipulate 
their shrivelling skins with unguents and to wash 



THE TOILET OF THE SOUL 199 

cheeks and eyes according to rnle with a view to 
the preservation of dimples and the demolition 
of crow's-feet. 

But the question arises in the thoughtful mind, 
and cannot be carelessly turned aside, Are we as 
heedful concerning the toilet of the soul as of 
the body ? It must be conceded that compara- 
tively few of us in the prevailing activity of our 
lives have leisure for that meditative and tran- 
quil order of mental exercise in which the spir- 
itual nature is fed as the flowers absorb the dew. 

A certain definite daily period of time for de- 
votional reading was once quite generally es- 
teemed an essential in religious growth, and I 
remember the little home sanctuaries of dear 
friends where they entered into their closets and 
shut the doors to pray, to study the Bible, and 
to cull the thoughts of Baxter, Doddridge, Bun- 
yan, and other good men. To have fed thriftily 
on a single text, a single stanza, a single devout 
aspiration in some little manual every morning 
and evening would not have satisfied these long- 
ing souls. Their religion was introspective and 
individual, and they emerged from their hours 
of mystical communion with faces glowing with 
a sacred light. 

Phillips Brooks, in a wonderful All - Saints' 
Day sermon, says of the help inherent in the 
thought that the church in heaven and on earth 



200 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

is one : "Ever from out the past, from the old 
saints who lived in other times, from Enoch, 
David, Paul and John, Augustine, Jerome, Lu- 
ther, Leighton, there comes down the power of 
God to us. Because they were full of it, we, hy 
association with them, grow fuller of it than we 
could be by ourselves. Our faith mounts up 
with their exultant prayers. Our weak devo- 
tion, tired and drooping, rests against the strong 
pillars of their certain trust. Their quick sight 
teaches our half-opened eyes the way to look 
towards the light that shall unseal them wholly." 
No one who has considered the subject as suffi- 
ciently important to at least try to maintain a 
habit of religious reading for three or four con- 
secutive months will fail to admit that there 
is great comfort and advantage in thus daily 
making the toilet of the soul. Apart from the 
strength derived from prayer when it is free and 
unhurried, there is a consciousness of added re- 
source, a sense of something in reserve, which 
comes to us as we read the Bible with earnest 
diligence, and as we study works which have the 
Bible directly or indirectly as their inspiration. 
It is a good plan to keep always at hand a vol- 
ume of some reach and grasp for regular peru- 
sal, as, for example, Dr. Thomson's " Christ in the 
Old Testament," Dr. Stalker's "Imago Christi," 
or Dr. Storrs's delightful " Bernard of Clair- 



THE TOILET OF THE SOUL 201 

vaux." I have lately read with peculiar sympa- 
thy those fragrant pages penned by the lamented 
Lucy Larcom. The "Unseen Friend'' and "As 
It Is in Heaven " are books to lift one into a 
diviner atmosphere. 

There is so much to do, there are so many 
whom we ought to aid, and the urgent need of 
doing at once whatever the hands find waiting 
is so pressing, that it is well for us to recall, as 
a shield against materialism, our Lord's injunc- 
tion to "watch and pray." "We shall not waste 
time in which we simply sit at the Master's feet. 



LI 
RIGHT LIVING ON A WRONG PLANE 

At the first glance it seems as if here is a 
manifest contradiction in terms, for how can one 
live rightly on any plane but the best ? Yet, 
when we look about us, Ave are fain to confess 
that there is such a thing as living honestly, hon- 
orably, and even beautifully, and still failing to 
give and to get that which makes the fulness and 
the sweetness of life. There may be right living, 
yet the living may be on a low level. There may 
be no breaking of law, yet the law of the highest 
love may be ignored. There may be much keep- 
ing of the Commandments and a missing of the 
spiritual atmosphere which is beyond the written 
word. 

A young wife goes to her new home, her hand 
in that of her " good man," the husband she has 
chosen ; she out of the whole world is sought 
and found, to be the loadstar of his future 
course. To surround her with luxury, to an- 
ticipate her every wish, to pay her homage is his 



EIGHT LIVING OX A WRONG PLANE 203 

desire and impulse. In a thousand happy homes 
this drama is going on, the young husband de- 
lighting to give the wife all that he can, so far 
as his means will allow. If he is rich he bestows 
on her position, jewels, a fair home, travel, ev- 
erything that money can buy. If he is poor 
he still shares with her his wages, and works for 
her with cheerful alacrity. In turn, she is eager 
and wishful to serve and honor him. There is 
nothing, in the beginning of a happy married 
life, which a wife will withhold from her husband, 
except, sometimes, the very thing which would 
be better for him than all the sweet and easy 
compliance in the world. Eight living on the 
wrong plans has held many a man back from 
his proper place in the Church of God, from his 
niche in the community to which, as a good citi- 
zen, he is entitled. 

"I always went to prayer-meeting before our 
marriage," said one dear young wife, "but Rob 
was not brought up to go, and prayer-meetings 
bore him. It seems to be more my duty to stay 
at home with him when he is tired than to go 
and leave him alone in the evening. So that is 
why I miss our pastor's evening lecture in the 
middle of the week, and why I almost forget 
what a prayer-meeting is like." 

The same wife, whether weary or not, always 
accompanies her husband to a place of amuse- 



204 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

ment which he fancies he would like to attend. 
How shall he suspect, since she never shows him 
by word or sign that she has a yearning for the 
privileges of the church which is not satisfied ? 
By degrees the yearning lessens. In a way, the 
way of devotion to her husband, the wife's the- 
ory of living is right, but she carries it on on a 
wrong plane. She has thrown away the chance 
of bringing her husband up to where she stands, 
and she has herself sunk. 

On the other hand, the wife, religiously strong 
from the first, has the courage to assert and live 
up to her convictions, quietly and trustfully as- 
suming that the home is to be one where God 
is to be openly served. The wife gives the tone 
to the new home, where she is the presiding 
genius. Her piety, her consecration, her love, 
wise beyond weakness, strong to bear, strong to 
wait, strong to suffer, exacts of her life's com- 
rade the best and leads him onward and upward. 
Such homes there are, sweet with the breath of 
the kingdom of heaven, where the love of Jesus 
has so filled the heart of the one who knew its 
secret sweetness that it has simply brought the 
other into the fuller companionship possible of 
God's elect. Eight living on the highest plane 
will have this reward. 

Is there not, too, another peril to which we 
women are subject in this era of interest in beau- 



RIGHT LIVING ON" A WRONG PLANE 205 

tiful accessories of the household ? Can we not 
sometimes, in our care for the machinery, over- 
look the thing for which it exists ? Is there 
never the lack of discovering the inner meaning 
of home, that for which home exists, to be the 
pattern of the heavenly, through our interest in 
the vases, the hangings, the chairs, the tables, 
the china, and the silver, which are justly dear 
to us ? Let us take care that we live on a plane 
which shall uplift us above the accidental and 
the transitory ; which shall keep us serene what- 
ever wind may blow. Eight living on the right 
plane, that is what we should strive for, and they 
who strive worthily will surely reach their de- 
sired haven. 



LII 

THE HOUSEHOLD PEOBLEM 

Other subjects are sporadic in their popular 
interest. This, the household problem — viz. , how 
to get the most and the best out of life without 
making the machinery too evident, the means 
rather than the end important — has all seasons 
for its own. Everybody has something at stake 
in the servant question, as we have come to call 
it, unconsciously showing in the phrase our un- 
fortunate domestic limitations. It would almost 
seem that this part of living should be managed 
quietly, with dignity, and, as a matter of course, 
each family as independent in its orderly routine 
and in its management of its "help" as in the 
caring for and education of its children. Yet it 
is the exception when this is so. 

Somewhere there is something much at fault, 
or we would not be involved in endless embar- 
rassments and perplexities — this delicate house- 
mother plunged into toil and care beyond her 
strength ; the other wearily trying to find for 



THE HOUSEHOLD PROBLEM 207 

her kitchen women at once capable, amiable, 
and conscientious, who will stay when once they 
are found ; a third inveighing violently against 
Swedes, Danes, Germans, Irish, and Americans, 
all equally unsatisfactory in her view. 

The fact is that while a few well-to-do people 
in our own country find it convenient to employ 
a staff of well - trained and thoroughly efficient 
domestics, each with special duties, as cook, laun- 
dress, waitress, butler, etc., the great majority 
are contented with a single maid of all work. 
She may, where the family is large, be supple- 
mented one or two days a week by a woman who 
comes in to wash and iron, but even this is un- 
usual. On Mondays and Tuesdays the ladies of 
the family assist in the work, relieve the maid 
of much of the cooking, wait on the door them- 
selves, set the tables, wash the dishes, and leave 
her free to struggle through the extra burdening 
duties of the family washing. 

On other days, especially on her recurring 
half-holidays, the maid is assisted by the mistress 
and her daughters, and where one has that treas- 
ure, "a good girl," life moves along smoothly. 
I hold that it might always thus move when the 
matter is so simple that its factors are the one 
maid and the one mistress, granted that the con- 
tracting parties meet on a common ground of 
kindness, fairness, and Christian charity. 



208 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

In receiving into one's home a new domestic 
the first obligation on the side of the employer 
is to make the stranger at home, an integral part 
of the family. Her board and lodging, as well 
as her wages, are part of her payment. There- 
fore, a pleasant and comfortably furnished room 
should be assigned her, with every toilet requi- 
site — water, soap, towels, a small rocking-chair, a 
closet, a bureau. Her bed, especially, should be 
as good of its kind as any in the house. An iron 
bedstead painted white, with springs and a nice 
mattress, should be provided for the rest of a 
hard-working woman. Having seen that the 
room is neat and dainty, the thoroughly con- 
scientious employer will exact its being kept in 
the same state, seeing herself that the maid has 
a daily hour for putting her own room in order 
and insisting that it be always sweet and well- 
aired. A set of sheets, pillow-slips, and towels 
should be kept for the maid's room. 

Lodging being thus provided for, the house 
mistress will likewise observe that a working- 
woman should take her meals regularly and in 
comfort. 

The ordinary Irish girl — let me say, in passing, 
that I have a great affection and regard for her, 
warm-hearted, quick-witted, lovable, if imper- 
fect, creature that she is — the ordinary Irish girl 
has an extraordinary fondness for tea. Her tea- 



THE HOUSEHOLD PROBLEM 209 

pot simmers forever on the range, and she likes 
snatching a meal now and then with the aid of a 
cup of her favorite strong infusion. 

If a midmorning cup of tea be her comfort, 
far be it from me to deny her this ; but it must 
not take the place of her periodical breakfast, 
dinner, and supper, to which she should be ex- 
pected to sit down, her meal hot and appetizing, 
her own dishes whole and respectable, her table- 
cloth clean and white. A little desjootism on the 
part of the mistress may be necessary to establish 
this orderly fashion of life in the kitchen,- but 
once established, the maid will herself prize it, 
and will be the better able to fulfil her duties 
for the healthful manner in which her days and 
nights go by. 

One often finds an employer amusingly timid 
and cringing in her feeling towards her maid. 
" Take care ; don't speak so loudly ; Norah will 
hear you V Or, "-Please, Harry, come to break- 
fast in time ; Maggie is growing so dissatis- 
fied I'm afraid she'll leave." Or, "Oh no! 
Dick cannot bring his playmates into the house. 
Bridget won't let them tramp over her clean 
hall." These and similar remarks are constant- 
ly heard. 

Whenever this reversal of appropriate senti- 
ments obtains, let the mistress hope for nothing 
beyond toleration. Servants, like children, love 



$;0 WITH MY JSTEIGHBORS 

a firm and temperate, and withal entirely just, 
rule ; it is "woe to the land or the home when 
a servant reigneth." 

The person whose remarks are too vociferous 
should lower his tones because it is polite to 
do so, not on Norah's account; Master Harry- 
should be punctual at breakfast to please his 
parents, not to serve the maid's convenience ; and 
little Dick, because boys are of more consequence 
than halls, ought to be encouraged to bring his 
young friends into the house with perfect free- 
dom. It is a great mistake to give the reins of 
control into the hands of a subordinate. 



LIII 

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING 

Probably at no previous period have intelli- 
gent women known more about housekeeping 
than they do at present. A widely spread opin- 
ion to the contrary notwithstanding, there is 
nothing especially difficult or subtle in the knowl- 
edge requisite to manage a house. One must 
have common-sense, one must have method, one 
must have tact, one must bestow attention. A 
girl who can set type, or practise stenography, 
or write an article, or paint a picture, or em- 
broider a centrepiece, or sell goods, or make a 
gown or bonnet, can master everything connect- 
ed with housekeeping in six weeks or less, if she 
have a sufficient motive. Training-schools and 
cooking-classes and lectures on domestic econ- 
omy are very helpful, but they are not essential, 
given the wish to learn and the brains to put 
processes and results together. In many por- 
tions of the United States skilled help cannot 
be found — it is simply not attainable at any 



212 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

price — and here the mother and daughters, 
sometimes with rude and primitive appliances, 
have to perform the domestic drudgery. Drudg- 
ery it inevitably becomes when undertaken only 
as a task, unillumined by gentle thoughts and 
unleavened by ambition. We may make drudg- 
ery of any work, or we may uplift it to rare and 
rich nobility by the spirit we bring to it. 

Still, even with the many assisting hands held 
out, there are women who know practically lit- 
tle of housekeeping. While such gifted writers 
as Marion Harland, Christine Terhune Herrick, 
Mrs. Borer, Elizabeth Bisland, Eliza Parker, and 
others have devoted their talents to describing 
the best and easiest way of doing each thing 
about the house, there is small excuse for any 
one's remaining in ignorance. Yet, after all, 
the best way to learn is to attack the problem 
with both hands and a willing heart. 

If you have ever bestowed a summer morning 
upon the basket of neatly folded and dampened 
clothes, you will better understand what it means 
to back and shoulder-blades and elbows and 
hands and the soles of one's feet to wield a 
heavy iron. Perhaps you will be willing to forego 
a few frills, a few tucks, a few puffs, in view of 
the difficulty and labor of ironing these well, if 
you have done the work a few times yourself. 

If you have personally washed the beautiful 



GOOD HOUSEKEEPING 213 

flannels, which are snch a comfort, cost so much 
money, and shrink so amazingly under careless 
and ill-taught handling, you will speak with in- 
sistent authority when you tell Katy that they 
are not to be rubbed with soap, but to be dipped 
up and down in tepid soapsuds ; that they are 
to be rinsed in clean water of precisely the same 
temperature as the previous bath ; that they are 
to be pulled in a certain designated way, and, 
above all, ironed while very damp. Katy, dis- 
cerning with respect that you know what you 
are talking about, will follow your directions, 
and will probably soon take a proper pride in 
her skill. 

So will it be with bread, that frequent disap- 
pointment; with steaks, so often charred on the 
outside and raw in the middle ; with soups and 
omelets and scallops and puddings — if one knows 
how to bake, to broil, to mix, to combine, as she 
easily may know, by taking a little trouble, she 
can then show or teach another. She will not 
be above learning from the other, at need, for 
Bridget may in some things have a better method 
than her mistress, but she will not be obliged to 
stand by and see wicked waste, simply because 
she has not the knowledge which means thrift. 

Our daughters at school are very much occu- 
pied with their various lessons and their work 
in this or that department. Still, on Satur- 



214 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

days and in vacations it is a pleasant thing for 
them to learn, bit by bit, the niceties of home 
management, so that, insensibly, a girl, helping 
mother, learns the mysteries of cooking, assumes 
the oversight of the family table, gains a quick 
eye for defects, sees that the china is lintless and 
the silver bright, and, at a glance, can tell what 
is wrong in bedmaking, where the deficiency is 
in the room which should look home-like and is 
instead grim and forbidding. Let the mother 
yield some of her cares to the blithe young daugh- 
ter ; let the latter bring her taste, her sympathy 
with modern fasbions, and her strength of nerve 
and gayety of temper to the solution of the house- 
hold problem. 

There comes to every woman in middle life a 
season when she needs and has earned the right 
to rest. What a blessed relief, then, just to drop 
the housekeeping wholly for a time, letting the 
daughter become responsible for the home table, 
for the management of the money, for the maid — 
if there be one — for father's comfort, for the 
children's pleasure ! A dear, grown-up daugh- 
ter may save her mother years of weakness and 
pain if she be allowed to step in at just the right 
moment, and the value to herself of such ex- 
perience is practically past estimation. It will 
make her, in years to be, a better and happier 
wife for some good man. 



LIV 
LOVE IS THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW 

When all is said that can be said, the wise 
counsels given, the discretion on both sides rec- 
ommended, the wages and the work settled on 
a fair and firm basis, there still remains an in- 
gredient to be dropped into the crucible where 
simmers the household problem. As when, hav- 
ing filled to the brim a crystal goblet, so that a 
single drop the more would overflow the edge, 
you may yet softly sprinkle sugar therein and it 
will sift its way into the small, unseen spaces 
between the drops, so to the puzzle of household 
management you may always bring — love. 

Fair wages by all means, and wages promptly 
paid. As high a rate of wages as the maid's 
ability and the standard of your neighbors in 
the community will justify. Clearly defined ob- 
ligations and reciprocal duties, privileges — I dis- 
like the word, yet it stands to the maid for her 
right to go regularly to the church of her choice, 
her right to see her friends, her right to enter- 



216 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

tain her friends in the house which gives her a 
share in its home life, and is for her a vital word 
— all these and much more enter into one's 
thought of the maid-servant within one's gates, 
and these are doubled and trebled and more 
or less complicated when one's domestic force 
means two, three, or a half-dozen persons. It is 
not ease one purchases with a large establish- 
ment. 

But none of these supplant one single strong 
element in making the bond between employer 
and employed permanent and satisfactory. Try 
love. Give it in unstinted measure to that lone- 
ly foreign- born girl, not older than your young 
daughter, and she will repay you by loving back 
with the whole wealth of her heart. Take an 
interest in her, in her health, her looks, her 
spendings, and her savings, her new gown, her 
sister's children, the young man who calls on her 
of an evening. Care about her and hers. Be 
sincerely sorry if there is illness or trouble in 
that tenement home where she takes her Sunday 
night tea, and put yourself out to show in some 
practical way that your sympathy is real. 

Erelong you will discover that you have gained 
a friend in a quarter where friendship is worth 
having. I hear people talk of the "ingratitude" 
of the class from which we draw our servants, 
and frankly I confess that I do not understand 



LOVE IS THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW 217 

by what right we claim gratitude for simply ac- 
cepting service which we buy and for which we 
pay. The word is a misnomer in this relation. 
We do, however, receive all that we give, and 
more, if our giving is free and spontaneous. 

I know a certain family in which for thirty 
years in the various branches — married daughters, 
sisters, etc. — there has been an unfailing supply 
of excellent servants from one connection in Ire- 
land. Mary lived with these people a dozen years, 
and left them for a home of her own, but not 
till she had sent to the "old country" for Susan 
to take her place. Other sisters and cousins 
came across the water, all finding homes with 
the friends of whom I speak ; and recently in 
my hearing one of the cheerful, useful, capable 
women of the set I refer to said, "It '11 be a sad 
day for us when none of the kin finds a place 
with the dear L.'s." The dear L.'s ! Said one 
of them to me once: "We don't know in the 
faintest degree what it means to have bothers 
about servants. All ours are brought to us from 
one family, and have been since my grand- 
mother's day." 

From time to time in the daily papers among 
the records of deaths we happen npon a line tell- 
ing in brief of the "faithful service" extend- 
ing over twenty or thirty years of some man or 
woman who has devotedly attached his or her 



218 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

personality to a household in trusted and appre- 
ciated loyalty. Such records might more fre- 
quently be read were we more careful to hallow 
the bond, so intimate and so easily made golden 
by love and kindness, regulated in its expression, 
let me add, by common-sense. 

Altruism sometimes overlaps propriety, as in 
one instance where a lady, anxious to give her 
maids the "home feeling," allowed them her 
house in which to give a large company, her- 
self and husband meanwhile going away for the 
night. Next morning, on her return, this mis- 
tress, whose love had not been guided by common- 
sense, beheld in her pretty drawing-room a scene 
of wreckage and ruin, for which she was directly 
responsible; and, remonstrated with, cook and 
housemaid indignantly left at once, as might 
have been expected. 

Love must not be weakness. It must not be 
folly. It must sometimes reprove, rebuke, ex- 
hort. It must be able to discipline, if needful, 
to exact its own in the way of what is just and 
right. Love is the fulfilling of the law, even in 
the relationship between mistress and maid, and 
this sort of love will solve the hardest household 
problem. 



LV 
THE lord's leadings 

Nothing is more natural than the deep desire 
of the young Christian and of the Christian past 
youth, hut earnest and loving with the love of 
the tried and the true, to be up and doing for 
Christ. Often this desire is so peremptory and 
so insistent that it blinds one to the fact that 
the Lord's work is bere as well as yonder, in 
our own kitchens, streets, and drawing-rooms as 
well as on the outlying posts of service. 

A sweet young girl, wistful and eager to fill 
every day with some blessed and direct work 
for Jesus, was one day walking on a common- 
place errand near her own house. A stranger 
paused to inquire the way, and the information 
was courteously given. Then, to the girl's heart, 
not too much occupied with its own concerns to 
be impressed with the want of another, came the 
thought that the woman who had asked the ques- 
tion was aged, looked feeble and bewildered, 
and bore the marks of poverty. The girl turned, 



220 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

retraced her steps, found the woman, and took 
her to the place she sought. It was a half-hour 
out of her day, and she discovered in that space 
that the stranger, just dismissed from a hospital, 
had come from her own home to seek and save a 
deeply tempted soul, a soul in extremity. The 
young girl took the ministry on herself — a minis- 
try of love, care, and time that extended over 
months. This was a leading of the Lord. 

We may not, perhaps, be able to invest with 
much glamour of romance a mission of the 
Lord to hard-working Mary, bending over her 
tubs in our own laundry. Even to go a little 
further, it seems finer to leave home and endure 
hardness in some circumstances, extending re- 
lief and showing compassion to the poor and the 
wretched in a crowded city neighborhood, than 
to give companionship to an aged relative sitting 
alone by our own fire. Both kinds of work are 
right and are the Lord's, but we should be very 
sure of the Lord's leading when we choose be- 
tween them. Are we quite as ready to live in 
the radiant joyousness of Christ's realized love 
and constant presence in our own village as in a 
distant field ? Is our own tired father, a little 
cross and fault-finding after a wearying day at 
business, as much an object of tender solicitude 
in our eyes as somebody's less worthy and very 
disreputable father who lounges around saloons, 



THE LOKD S LEADINGS 221 

and does no work that he can help, but for whom 
a mission, properly, sets wide its doors of bless- 
ing ? 

Understand, I am speaking no word against 
the home mission, or the city mission, or the 
foreign mission work, for these I dearly love. 
Only, for some of us, the Lord's leadings are not 
in these directions, but are more strictly limited 
— to the little brother needing help with his 
Latin lesson, the fragile mother with an aching 
head on her pillow, the friend, gay of manner 
and genial of temper, who is in danger of drift- 
ing into evil associations. 

On the other hand, there are those who are 
called, sternly and strongly, to go forth, out into 
the world, up into the New England valley, 
among the hills where the candle of faith burns 
feebly and the churches languish for lack of en- 
thusiasm, out into the pathways of sorrow and 
the purlieus of sin, over the ocean to the hea- 
then. If it be a God's call, and you heed it, 
wherever it lead it will lead to blessedness. 



LVI 

EXTRAVAGANCE IX LIVING 

I have so' often resented the imputation to 

"women of extravagance in domestic management 
that I hesitate in taking up. in even acknowl- 
edging that there is. the other side. But one 
must admit that there is much which needs to 
be said in plain words to wives and daughters 
with regard to the pressure which they sometimes 
thoughtlessly bring on the bread-winner of the 
family, the husband and father, whose daily work 
and daily wage stand between the household and 
want, and provide for it comfort and luxuries. 

To live beyond our means is an American 
temptation, perhaps it is the most common 
American sin. People desire to appear as well 
as their neighbors: they wish their homes to be 
beautifully furnished and appointed: they care 
m - than in a former day for elegance in dress. 
and society is more than ever imperious in its 
exactions. Eetrenehment is not easy. In a false 
position, one dreads to have poverty suspected. 



EXTKAVAGANCE IN LIVING 223 

Many people lack the moral courage to say sim- 
ply that they cannot afford this or that expendi- 
ture, and both fathers and mothers are occasion- 
ally weak and cowardly when the question is of 
indulging the caprices of young people, or giv- 
ing an idolized daughter an outfit for the season, 
which they cannot afford. A gray-haired man, 
who has nearly reached his sixtieth year, and 
whose career through his youth and early man- 
hood was a succession of honors, is to-day in a 
penitentiary because he could not say "no" 
when his daughters urged him to a style of liv- 
ing which could be supported onby, in his case, 
by systematic theft. 

It is easy to say, and it is often true, that the 
women of a family are ignorant of the amount 
they may reasonably spend because the man of 
the house keeps his affairs to himself. Entire 
candor as to income and outgo should be the 
rule in domestic life, the family thus knowing 
what it can and what it cannot do in given cir- 
cumstances, and presenting a united front to the 
world. A husband does wisely who takes his wife, 
as it is her right to be taken, into his fullest finan- 
cial confidence. A wife should insist on her priv- 
ilege of sharing knowledge as well as of bearing 
burdens. Women are not, as a rule, deficient in 
common-sense, and the wife of a man on a salary 
can usually arrive at a very clear conclusion — at 



224 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

least, approximately — as to what she ought to 
spend over and above the necessary amount for 
food and clothing. Necessary expenses are not 
extravagances. The word tells its own story. It 
is the going beyond bounds, the indulging fancies 
and gratifying impulses, which becomes extrava- 
gant, as opposed to what is essential. 

One of the common faults of Americans is a 
disdain for small economies. We do not count 
car fares ; we buy the pretty trifle, which costs 
only a few cents ; we accumulate useless things in 
our houses ; if we have a fad, it is always leading 
us to spend a dollar or two for this and the other 
thing in connection with it, as wheelmen and 
amateur photographers can testify. We take the 
drawing-room car for a little journey, which 
might comfortably be made in the ordinary 
coach. In numerous small ways our money 
drips away, and leaves little to show for it in 
value received. 

A thousand cases of extravagance in small- 
er or larger degree result only in undignified 
squabbling at home, in petty irritations, in tears 
and frowns, in subtraction from the wholesome 
gayety of life. But the thousand-and-one case 
occurs, and there is a crash which startles the 
community, brings disgrace on a hitherto unsul- 
lied name, drags a circle of kindred and friends 
into a srulf of sorrow. The thing which cannot 



EXTRAVAGANCE IN LIVING 225 

go on has been attempted, and lias finally and 
suddenly reached its ultimate end, as might have 
been predicted. And then, how tawdry seems 
the useless finery! how absurd look the foolish 
strivings after display ! how unwise and stupid 
appears the scheme of living which built its house 
upon the sand ! 

If we need the word in season, friends, let us 
heed it. The sensible and judicious husband 
and wife will plan together for the family good. 
If there be stinting, it will not be in wholesome 
food, nor on the children's education, nor on 
good reading, nor on anything which has to do 
with the church and the family charities. It 
will take the direction of cutting off what is 
merely for vanity, for ease, for show, for waste- 
fulness, for doing what our neighbor does, with- 
out reference to our own honesty and self-re- 
spect. 



LVII 

THE TRIALS OF THE OVER-SENSITIVE 

" That dear child is so very sensitive," said 
a mother, pityingly, as her eleven-year-old daugh- 
ter, with tear -filled eyes, stumbled out of the 
room, knocking over a footstool in her haste to 
be gone. " I am always on the alert to save her. 
Few days pass in which Ethel does not suffer 
keenly. Her father and brothers are not always 
considerate, and the child's gentle spirit is easily 
wounded. Now she will cry for a half-hour and 
be wretched the remainder of the day, and all 
because papa was vexed that she forgot to call 
at the post-office on her way home from school." 

"Is it part of her daily duty to bring home 
the mail ?" I asked. 

"Yes," said the mother, a little reluctantly; 
" but you know how it is with school-girls. They 
are at the age when it is not possible always 
to remember an engagement. Their little lives 
are so full of pleasures, and they have not yet 
learned to assume cares, these little girls. I tell 



THE TRIALS OF THE OVER-SENSITIVE 227 

papa that Ethel will be more thoughtful by-and- 
by, and that we cannot expect as much steadiness 
of her as of her great, strong brothers." 

This golden - haired, beautiful Ethel, her one 
daughter and her youngest child, was the dar- 
ling of my friend's heart and the very apple of 
her eye. The mother lingered about a few mo- 
ments, restless and uncomfortable, and then stole 
out of the room, and presently I heard her mov- 
ing about overhead in Ethel's pretty little cham- 
ber. Down the street I caught from the window a 
glimpse of papa, whose hasty speech had wrought 
the mischief. His broad back and plodding steps 
seemed pathetic to me as I thought how tired 
he was after his day's work, and knew that he 
was wending his way to the post-office to per- 
form Ethel's neglected errand. Everybody made 
to feel more or less in the wrong because one 
petted child had been reproved, and had gone 
off grieved in consequence ! It did not appear 
quite fair. 

It was not of Ethel's little fit of the sulks nor of 
her mother's mistaken tenderness that I thought 
longest on that sweet autumnal afternoon, for 
one thought starts another, and I recalled this 
person and that, who had gone much beyond 
childhood, enduring keen and often needless an- 
guish because of a disposition too readily sensi- 
tive to blame or fancied unkindness. Such a 



228 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

disposition torments its possessor, inflicting pain 
to which the blow of a whip would be light ; yet, 
strange to say, it would almost appear that the 
unfortunately over-sensitive person watches for 
slights and welcomes wounds, so often are they 
received when none are intended. 

In the family the opportunities for hurting 
the sensibilities of the easily injured one are 
manifold. A chance word at the table, a word 
unsaid when praise or compliment was desired, 
a bit of criticism, however gentle, an absent or 
preoccupied look, will upset the dear one for the 
day, and the atmosphere will become electric. 
It is always the dear one, mother, elder sister, 
sometimes father or brother — though rarely, for 
the stronger sex are less given than ours to what 
in children we call tantrums — whose feelings are 
hurt. Singularly, in most households the ill- 
tempered and pesky are more studied and in ef- 
fect more beloved than the amiable and sensible. 
There are gray -haired Ethels, who have gone 
on through long lives exacting forbearance and 
consideration from their relatives on the score 
of their remarkable sensitiveness, and so they 
will do to the very end. 

And in the larger family of the church, who 
does not know the brother or the sister whose 
feet are too easily trodden upon, who withdraws 
from this and the other department of work, 



THE TRIALS OF THE OVER-SENSITIVE 229 

and will no longer support his pastor or continue 
in fellowship with the friends in the society, 
hitherto his comrades and trusted companions, 
because he has been ignored or opposed or 
wounded? It becomes each of us to ask wheth- 
er we have never erred in this way, whether we 
have at no period put a stumbling-block in a 
brother's road through our jealousy for our- 
selves. 

Over-sensitiveness is often the product of a 
morbid love of self. Vanity takes fire at a touch, 
and vanity is resentful and implacable. Except 
in the earliest years, outside help avails little to 
overcome a defect so grave. Children may be 
guided towards a better and happier life and 
taught to cultivate the charity that seeketh not 
her own ; but in older persons this kind goeth 
not out but by prayer and fasting. If, as may 
happen, you or I are over-sensitive, is it not 
worth while at once to set about eradicating a 
fault so grave and with consequences so unde- 
sirable in our social intercourse ? 



LVIII 
RANDOM PRAYERS 

There is a need of definiteness in our prayers. 
One observes this in the prayer - meeting, where 
often the petitions cover a wide range of topics, 
but miss the particular wants of the hour, the 
place, and the people assembled. And most of 
us know that in our private prayers, our tranquil 
closet seasons, we must occasionally arrest our- 
selves in the midst of unconsidered, vague, and, 
so to speak, random words. Prayer is not only 
a spiritual exercise, it is an intellectual effort, 
and requires thought and care, precisely as does 
any other mental and physical endeavor. What 
to say and how to say it are here as important as 
in any other field where we converse, prefer re- 
quest, or express gratitude. 

But, going a step further, how strange it seems 
that we forego the privilege of telling our Father 
exactly what we desire, putting into loose phrases 
of no special meaning our hopes and aims, allud- 
ing in general terms to the conversion of our fam- 



RANDOM PRAYERS 231 

ilies and friends and the reviving of the church, 
as though the end in question would be a happy 
circumstance, yet carrying no one person or group 
of persons on our hearts to the mercy-seat. This, 
too, in the face of our own belief in God's indi- 
vidual care of and for us, and of his own gra- 
cious declaration to every one of his children, 
" I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine." 
The pages of Scripture are strewn with promises 
to the man who prays, with narratives of direct 
answers to importunate and believing prayers, 
and yet we, not merely because of little faith, 
but often through the merest heedlessness and 
lack of thought, go groping on, without seeking 
divine strength in any earnest way, without ask- 
ing specifically for the thing we yearn to have, 
yet do not ask for except in a random and half- 
hearted manner. 

It would be well for those who have not given 
this subject much thought hitherto to take a 
look at their own ordinary practice. Possibly the 
answer to some who complain that their prayers 
never bring them a return of blessing would be 
that as yet they have never really prayed. 

When it reaches the sacred ground of the in- 
ner consciousness, that plane where all souls 
stand solitary and stripped of conventional dis- 
guises in the presence of the Lord, how few of 
us even there and then are fully sincere in our 



232 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

confession and our application for relief. The 
sin which most easily besets us is a sin we are 
apt to regard with a measure of toleration. The 
weak point in our armor, easily seen by others, 
is not always discerned by ourselves. We may 
be honest as the day in our pecuniary dealings, 
scornful of any meanness or indirection in our 
speech, our integrity among men may be flaw- 
less, but in our homes we may be difficult to live 
with, irritable and irritating, uncertain in our 
tempers, morose and fault-finding in disposition. 
Perhaps our lot is cast with uncongenial people. 
The members of our own families may rasp our 
nerves and wear us out with their foibles and ex- 
actions. In this sphere of the daily life, if any- 
where, we need the help which comes by contin- 
ual and explicit prayer, prayer addressed to the 
only heart in the universe that can understand 
and the only arm strong enough to save us. One 
would think that at least in their prayers men 
and women would be candid, but the human 
heart is deceitful, and most of us know how 
gently we tolerate our own weaknesses and with 
what reserves we own, even on our knees and 
alone, that we are "miserable sinners." It is 
only when we arrive at the point of feeling and 
deploring the sin we acknowledge that we cry 
out to be delivered from it and receive assistance 
to put our prayers into practice. 



RANDOM TRAYER8 233 

The habit of prayer, once established, is both a 
safeguard and a comfort, a retreat and a defence, 
in this world of trouble and perplexity. But to 
get all the good the Lord wants to give us, we 
must pray with the literalness of children and 
the definiteness of those who are in extreme ear- 
nestness, not insult the King above us with ran- 
dom prayers which have not even the merit of 
being attentive and which lack the virtue of sin- 
cerity. 



LIX 

THE WEAKNESS OF GIVING UP THE BATTLE 

Not long ago the people of a beautiful South- 
ern town were startled and horrified by the sui- 
cide of a girl whose lover, after a long engage- 
ment, had shown himself weary of the bond 
between them. The circumstances were sad, 
the affair tragic, and society was deeply moved 
with pity at the untimely end of one who had 
been useful, admired, and popular in a refined 
circle. Recently a ripple of compassion and hor- 
ror agitated for a day or two the cities of New 
York and Brooklyn, the occasion again being 
the death by her own act of a young girl, a 
graduate of one of our best schools, and an en- 
thusiastic art student. In the second case, fail- 
ure to pass an examination successfully, after a 
long and arduous period of endeavor, is supposed 
to have temporarily clouded the girl's mind, and 
forced her across the narrow line which phy- 
sicians tell us defines the border -land between 
sanity and insanity. 



WEAKNESS OF GIVING UP THE BATTLE 235 

Would it not be well, in our thought and talk 
at home and elsewhere, to emphasize more than 
we do the great sacredness of human life, the 
privilege of living and working, and the sin of 
flying to death as a refuge when the battle goes 
against us? At the moment of defeat, in the 
hour of a heart-break, it is hard for the sufferer 
to realize that the trouble is a mere episode, that 
it will pass, that in a few months, or at most in 
a few years, it will recede into unimportance, or 
that experience will show that nothing else would 
have been so good for the individual, so sweet in 
its fruitage, so blessed to every one involved in 
the individual's circle of influence, as just that 
disappointment or defeat. 

Yet thousands can testify that the outcome of 
sorrow is not only disciplinary and by way of 
training, but positively towards fuller happiness 
and more benignant living. I knew intimately, 
some years ago, a woman who told me that once 
in a critical hour of her life she stood holding in 
her hand a vial containing a deadly poison, Satan 
at her elbow tempting her to drink it and escape 
from the apparently bottomless gulf of distresses 
in which she was plunged. She resisted the 
wicked and insane impulse, God helping her to 
overcome it, and lived to see that only such un- 
usual trials as were hers could have given her 
unique powers and opportunities. " Tell the 



23G WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

tempted," she said, "that the only safe way is 
always, when the Father's hand presents the bit- 
ter cup, to drink it, saying 'Thy will be done.'" 
It is not long since I talked with this lady and 
heard from her own lij)s what the goodness of 
God had enabled her to do — the story of the 
hundred-fold harvest rewarding the faithful seed- 
sowing. Suppose she had weakly abandoned the 
field, leaving a dishonored name and the legacy of 
a never-waning regret to her family and friends. 
How much nobler to endure and to do the day's 
work, and to trust God for the end, and to the 
end ! 

Young people are very apt to regard stepping- 
stones as finalities. A lover breaks faith. The 
girl, in her own sight humiliated and hurt to the 
core of her being, shrinks from sight and feels as 
if her world were in ruins. The truth is that no- 
body is ever humiliated by the wrongdoing of 
another, and that he who can be false and fickle 
is not what love had fancied, and is merely a 
broken ideal. Broken ideals bruise the heart, 
but, if it is strong and stanch, they do not break 
it. I think of a life, absolutely angelic in its 
continual beautiful largesse of love, its shelter- 
ing wings to the aged and the child, its grace of 
purity, its might of tenderness, yet there was a 
day, a score of years ago, when she who lives it 
saw herself deserted by the man who had her 



WEAKNESS OF GIVING UP THE BATTLE 237 

trothplight, and sat in a darkened chamber all 
the day his wedding-bells rang out. It isn't only 
that she is happier, not being that man's wife ; 
she is richer in privilege, stronger for work, 
sweeter, more useful, more sympathetic, diviner 
by the touch of the Master's hand that bade her 
suffer and helped her to rise and shake off the 
bondage of pain. 

To the student who has lived at high pressure 
and strained every nerve to reach the goal, it is 
an unspeakable disappointment to fail in an ex- 
amination. But examiners are fallible men and 
women, and examinations are not always the best 
nor the truest indexes of progress, and, anyway, 
if one can but have philosophy, there will come 
another day when, with increased study and an- 
other endeavor, the examination will be success- 
fully undergone. I know that six months in a 
young life looks like a large section of eternity, 
that sometimes the disappointment means criti- 
cism and censure at home and loss of money, 
which was hardly earned and ill to spare. Nev- 
ertheless, if one has made diligent and faithful 
preparation, one must not be disheartened. It 
is, somehow, all right, even if it does not look so, 
and you will live to see that it is so. The fool- 
ish and the weak thing is to be crushed ; the 
most unwise thing in the world is to slip down 
in desperation, unable to take the comfort that 



238 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

. . . "the darkest day, 
Live till to-morrow will have passed away." 

Soul and body are such close partners that 
both must be relied upon for help when the sit- 
uation seems almost intolerable. For the soul, 
seek the good old weapon called all-prayer. It 
never failed any who wielded it aright. For the 
body, no matter how intense the trial, at least 
make an effort to eat and to sleep. Do nothing 
rashly, without having taken food and without a 
night's rest. And always remember that it is 
ignoble to run away. Only weakness gives up 
the battle. 



LX 

AN AFTER-THE-HOLIDAYS TALK 

The holidays seem to me to be the golden 
season of the year. We feel a special exhilara- 
tion as we enter into their precincts ; onr friend- 
ships, our tender relations with kith and kin, 
our interest in people whom we may lovingly 
help by the cordial word or the timely gift, are all 
strengthened and intensified and quickened by 
the incidents and opportunities of the blessed 
holiday season. The chief peril to fear at this 
time springs from our innate tendency to re- 
action. On the hill-top to-day is often in the 
valley to-morrow. By the height of privilege to 
which wo are occasionally lifted some of us must 
measure the depth to which we fall ; our very 
activity, our impulsive generosity, our beautiful 
self-denial at one period, excusing to our con- 
sciences the inertia and the selfishness of another 
time. We forget that our chief obligation in the 
world is to let our light shine, not now and then, 
but always, with a steady, unwavering glow. 



240 WITH MY KEIGHBOKS 

Now, if before Christmas it was our chief and 
most delightful study to give pleasure to this 
or that dear one, if we lay in wait to ascertain 
what course of action would make the home 
most truly a type of heaven on Christmas Day, 
think what gratification, what joy, what fulness 
of pleasure, would be afforded could we keep this 
sort of thing up all the time. Not precisely in 
the bestowal of gifts ; that is not to be expected ; 
but along the lines of tender thoughtfulness, of 
courteous speech, and of graceful consideration 
for others' rights, others' wishes, and others' hap- 
piness. Such a carrying of the Christmas spirit 
into daily living everywhere would rebuke im- 
patience, remove irritability, sweeten many a bit- 
ter cup, and impart strength to weakness and 
solace to pain. 

The new year, arbitrary as it is as a division 
of time, brings to me, at least, quite as it did in 
my childhood, the consciousness of new purpose, 
of a chance to be and to do, in a new and con- 
secrated life, better than in the past. Here is a 
white page. What shall I write on it ? Here is 
an open door. How shall I enter it ? Here is 
an angel's voice. What does it say to me ? Here 
is a gift from God. How shall I receive it ? Oh, 
the sense of fulness, of power, of the divine 
nearness in the new year ! But I am apt, as the 
freshness wears off, to lose some of this wonder- 



AN AFTER-TIIE-HOLIDAYS TALK 241 

ful and charming realization of a benediction in 
the new year, and it does not remain new — it 
soon grows old and worn and very much like 
those that have preceded it. This is not the 
year's fault ; it is wholly mine, as very likely 
it is yours ; and might we not both gain a great 
deal if, taking our present new year, one hour at 
a time, we should live up to the God-given bene- 
dictions which every hour brings ? 

To our little children the space between year's 
end and year's end looks interminable. They 
still live long days, and their engagements do not 
hurry them on as ours do. Life to childhood, as 
compared with life to grown people, is the lei- 
surely progress of the foot traveller, or the gen- 
tle movement of the stage-coach, contrasted with 
the impetuous rush of the railway train. We slip 
through the busy months so fast that the anni- 
versaries take us by surprise, so swiftly one treads 
on the heels of its fellow ; but the little ones know 
the joy of waiting and longing as well as the joy 
of possession. 

To keep the holiday elixir of delight through 
the work-day levels as something to take and to 
give — this is the ideal attainment and should be 
the constant aspiration. 



LXI 

OVERDOING IN KINDNESS 

" My clear," said a lady to a young relative, 
who was insisting that a delicate mother should 
not wear herself out by undertaking some work 
on which the mother's heart was set, "you tire 
her a great deal more by your opposition than 
she would tire herself by doing as she wishes 
to." It was true, though it was hard for the 
loving daughter to understand why. Youth is 
eager, imperious, and strong of will, and often, 
in its very beautiful and unselfish impulsive- 
ness, it wounds those it would help. One has 
to arrive at a certain place in life to compre- 
hend that the largest kindness which may be 
done to any one is, in nine cases out of ten, just 
to let her alone. Especially in the dealings of 
the young with the old, of grown-up sons and 
daughters with the parents who stand a genera- 
tion in front of them, there is need of caution, 
for even kindness may fail of its good intention 
if it be overdone. 



OVERDOING IN KINDNESS 243 

Everybody has noticed and many have smiled 
at the quick sensitiveness of the aged where their 
acceptance of aid in things smaller or greater 
seems to imply a falling off of power. Probably 
the real reason why people as a rule object to 
growing old, and cling desperately to the reced- 
ing skirts of youth, is because, little by little, 
age does grow conscious of infirmity, age feels 
that it is pushed from its position in the activi- 
ties of life and forced to stand aside. When age 
is still far away, a mere shadow in the distance, 
there are those who forecast the future and re- 
bel against its limitations, and they are more 
than ordinarily ready to resist when their jun- 
iors lay, though softly and sweetly, stumbling- 
blocks in their way. It makes them a little 
difficult to get on with, and they are brusquer 
and more prickly than they would be but for 
the constant endeavor to hold their own, which 
has the effect of all struggle, and toughens and 
hardens the one who conquers, so that there is a 
little tarnish on the gold of victory. 

Yet this is better than the too easy giving up, 
the relinquishing of privilege, the loss of stand- 
ing-ground which we sometimes see. I have 
known a mother at fifty, when she should have 
been in the splendor and prime of her years, 
abandon her appropriate chair of state in the 
family councils simply because her strong-willed 



244 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

children were too much for her. Their overzeal 
in kindness effaced her as inevitably as if they 
had treated her with rudeness or neglect. In the 
latter alternative, indeed, she would have had 
more scope for growth, for the wind and the sun 
and the dew of heaven are better for the rooted 
plant than is the breath of the hot-house. Few 
human beings are improved by constant living in 
a glass case, and when a human being ceases to 
grow and develop, he or she then, and not till 
then, becomes past usefulness and a cumberer of 
the ground. By what right, by what excuse, do 
children ever thus impose an arresting kindness 
on their parents ? 

Generally speaking, to be very plain about it, 
children should not interfere too much with the 
mother's freedom of action. It is a Sunday morn- 
ing. "You surely are not going to church?" 
says Jane; "in this weather ?" adds Elizabeth; 
" and the church will be as cold as a barn, and 
you will get your death of grippe or pneumonia," 
supplements Katharine, till among them they 
either persuade the poor lady to yield against 
her inclination, or so excite her by their well- 
meant resistance to it that she is in no frame of 
mind to enjoy the sanctuary. 

All the while it has never occurred to one of 
the girls that her mother knows her own prefer- 
ence, has sufficient common-sense to take pre- 



OVERDOIXG IX KIXDXESS 245 

cautions against the weather, and has a perfect 
right to choose her course and act with inde- 
pendence. I know instances where the affec- 
tionate despotism of daughters hinders their 
mothers from taking a share in church work for 
which they are eminently qualified, and absolute- 
ly ages and invalidates the elder women in lines 
where they would be most valued and most use- 
ful. 

This is not a plea against considerate sweet- 
ness and gentle treatment on the part of children 
where old people are concerned ; it is a small 
word by way of reminder to those who do not 
know or comprehend how too much zeal in sin- 
cere, well-meant kindness may be as deleterious 
as its opposite. Not always do age and youth 
see things alike. The point of view differs. Age, 
it must be admitted, is often capricious and un- 
reasonable, but youth, which we all have had, is 
so great an advantage in itself that it should learn 
magnanimity and restrain its desire to rule. One 
of these days, these flying days, the youngest of 
us all will, it may be, remember and regret what 
can never be atoned for. 



LXII 

FRANKNESS BETWEEN FRIENDS 

Friendship at its best is the most educa- 
tional experience possible to men and women, 
for, since by its very existence it demands and 
implies reciprocity of sentiment and mutual 
obligation, in every friendship worth the name 
there is a continual leading out of self and a 
continual growth towards excellence. 

No real friendship, flawless as a gem and 
spherical and serene, can be maintained in dig- 
nity and aspiration to the highest ideal where 
the parties to it are afraid, for any reason, to be 
entirely sincere with one another. If, for any 
cause, there is conscious hedging by this one and 
fencing by that ; if at times one friend or the 
other approaches thin ice in the familiar inter- 
course, and mentally looks out for a danger sig- 
nal, the friendship is incomplete and fails of 
attaining its highest plane. 

It is not so much that a friend desires to invest 
a friend with all lovable and beautiful qualities, 



FRANKNESS BETWEEN FRIENDS 247 

as that the qualities themselves have brought 
about the friendship, and are taken for granted, 
as fragrance and warmth and sunshine and at- 
mosphere are taken as of course. Friendship is 
founded on congeniality ; it can only live where 
there are fitness and responsiveness. In its vary- 
ing degrees it may sometimes bind the younger 
very closely to the older, the unlearned to the 
scholarly, the toiling to the affluent; but, unless 
in exceptional cases, it reaches its best expression 
where environment and intellectual conditions 
are favorable and to some extent equal. There 
must be kinship of mind and communion of inter- 
est to begin the friendship. For its growth, pro- 
pinquity, a common faith, reverence for the in- 
dividuality of each on the part of both, and an 
unstudied altruism are probably essential. In 
the strongest friendship there is jealousy, not 
of the mean and base sort, which is an exaggera- 
tion of self-love and lies in wait for offence, but 
of the pure and noble kind, which exacts from 
the beloved one that which is worthy his best 
endeavor, which can accept nothing half-hearted 
and nothing trivial in a friend's thought and 
performance. 

The friendship which is at once a personal 
offering and a rejoicing in the finest development 
of the friend will not hesitate at the truth, nor 
build itself on anything lower than the truth. 



248 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

Entire candor between friends supposes in them 
a nobility which does not cry for compliment and 
praise, but which does claim and appreciate sin- 
cerity. Not the childish and petulant phrase, 
"Tell me my faults and I'll tell you yours/' is 
meant in this relation, but the instant answering 
of soul to soul in an outgo of never-ceasing help- 
fulness. 

Such a friendship may exist between man and 
man, or between woman and woman, or, perhaps 
oftenest, between man and woman. When in 
the latter case it reaches its fullest flower of 
beauty in marriage, it becomes a type and symbol 
of that divine harmony which subsists between 
Christ and the Church. Husband and wife must 
be friends in the truest sense if their marriage is 
to mean what Heaven intends marriage to be — the 
most of heaven which can be bestowed on earth 
and expressed in an earthly home. But friendship 
is not necessarily a thing of sex — it is a thing of 
soul. Two men, loving one another as men can 
love, clinging to one another through all vicissi- 
tude, believing in one another and holding one 
another sternly to the best by reason of their 
love, realize such fulness of devotion as the 
Bible sets forth in the idyl of David and Jon- 
athan. Nay, did not our Lord Himself, yearning 
for human sympathy, among His disciples select 
one who has come down through the ages as 



FRANKNESS BETWEEN FRIENDS 249 

"that disciple whom Jesus loved"? What a 
beautiful distinction, and how suggestive to every 
Bible student, showing into what secret of the 
Lord some may enter, leaning on Jesus' bosom ! 

Friendship of woman for woman is so common, 
yet so rare and so blessed at its best, that we 
forget to eulogize it among life's finer forces. 
Everywhere it exists, everywhere it shows how 
firm and loyal and generous and long-tenured the 
pleasant relation may be. We find it in liter- 
ature and in history, but we need not go there to 
look for it, since examples of it are in our own 
village, in our own street, in our own church. 
Free from petty self-seeking, above all vanity, 
united in endeavor, and strong in the same hope 
for this world and the next, the friendships of 
women go on from childhood to gray hairs. 

Between friends, of whatever degree, let there 
be the assurance of perfect candor. Part of the 
price must never be kept back. We shall love 
one another more, not less, if we give at times 
the helping hand and say the word which means 
disillusion for the moment only, that in the next 
there may be clearer knowledge, the cobwebs 
swept away, and the sunshine pouring its light 
into every corner of the soul. 



LXIII 
THE HOUSE OF OBED EDOM 

The house of Obed Edom, 

Where safe the ark abode, 
What time were wars and fightings 

On every mountain road, 
What time was pitched the battle 

In every valley fair, 
The house of Obed Edom 

Had peace beyond compare. 

With famine on the border 

And fury in the camp, 
With the starving children huddled 

In the black tent's shivering damp, 
With the mothers crying sadly 

And every moan a prayer — 
In the house of Obed Edom 

Was neither want nor care. 

The fields of Obed Edom, 
No f oeman trod them down ; 



THE HOUSE OF OBED EDOM 251 

The towers of Obed Eclom 
Were like a fortressed town ; 

And only grace and gladness 
Came speeding on the road 

To the house of Obed Edom, 
Wherein the ark abode. 

And far and near they told it, 

The men who passed that way, 
How fell Jehovah's blessing 

On that home by night and day ; 
How the smallest to the greatest 

Had joy and hope and love, 
While the roof of Obed Edom 

Was watched by God above. 

The line of Obed Edom 

Is on the earth to-day ; 
In the house of Obed Edom 

Still he may safely stay 
Who, dearer than all treasure 

For which men toil and plod, 
Shall prize the covenant-blessing, 

The hallowed ark of God. 

And never strife nor clamor 
Shall break the tranquil spell 

In which our Lord's beloved 
Forever safely dwell. 



252 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

In the house of Obed Edom, 
In sunlight or in dark, 

Abides the ceaseless blessing 
That rests within the ark. 



LXIV 
A BLESSED OPPORTUNITY 

God gave me something very sweet to be mine 

own this day : 
A precious opportunity, a word for Christ to say ; 
A soul that my desire might reach, a work to do 

for Him ; 
And now I thank Him for this grace ere yet the 

light grows dim. 

No service that He sends me on can be so wel- 
come aye 

To guide a pilgrim's weary feet within the 
narrow way, 

To share the tender Shepherd's quest, and so 
by brake and fen 

To find for Him his wandering ones, the erring 
sons of men. 



I did not seek this blessed thing ; it came a rare 

surprise, 
Flooding my heart with dearest joy, as, lifting 

wistful eyes, 



254 WITH MY NEIGHBORS 

Heaven's light upon a kindling face shone 

plain and. clear on mine ; 
And there an unseen third, I felt, was waiting 

One divine. 

So in this twilight hour I kneel, and pour my 

grateful thought 
In song and prayer to Jesus for the gifts this 

day hath brought. 
Sure never service is so sweet, nor life hath so 

much zest, 
As when He bids me speak for Him, and then 

He does the rest. 



LXV 
INTERRUPTED 

Into the midst of the music, 

The joy and the fulness of life, 
There swept a strange clangor ; then silence, 

A stillness more startling than strife. 
We heard not the sound of the trumpets, 

The bugles died out on the blast. 
Could we march in that desolate waiting 

For the thrill of a song that was past ? 

Could we work when our comrades no longer 

Breathed courage and hope in the ear ? 
Could we triumph when sorrow and sighing 

Had palsied our hearts, until fear 
Swept over our souls like the shadow 

Of some brooding evil to come ? 
Alas ! we were stricken ; the music 

That had given us courage was dumb. 

Then down from the beautiful heaven 
A word came, the word of the Lord, 



256 WITH MY NEIGHBOKS 

And it struck on our languor and trouble, 

A dominant, silvery chord. 
" Stay not for the music/' it bade us ; 

" The music has only gone on. 
You will hear it again in the glory 

That waits when the day's work is done. 

So now, though but faintly and seldom 

We hear the sweet bugle-call blow, 
We march in the path that our Leader 

Marked out in His conflict with woe. 
Some day we will hear the grand chorals, 

Some day we will stand on the shore 
Where the comrades already are waiting — 

The music has gone on before. 



THE END 



MRS. SANGSTER'S POEMS 



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